Tag Archives: arthritis

Understanding the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Learn the signs of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and tips to help manage the conditions from American In-Home Care, Florida’s home care experts.

“Arthritis” is a catchall term frequently used as an informal way to refer to joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion that can become prevalent as people age. While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the more common forms of the disease, there are in fact more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions.

In the United States, approximately 1 in 4 adults have arthritis. Arthritis can be caused by age, overuse and wear and tear on a particular joint, injuries, obesity, genes, autoimmune disorders, muscle weakness, and more. To better understand how to live with and manage two of the more common forms of arthritis, the aging care experts at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care share details about rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
Symptoms of arthritis typically develop over a period of time, but they can also appear suddenly. Osteoarthritis usually develops after the age of 50 and rheumatoid arthritis usually develops between the ages of 30 – 50 years old. Symptoms are frequently most acute after a person has been resting, sleeping, or sitting idly for an extended period of time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune or inflammatory disease where a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake, resulting in painful inflammation in affected parts of the body. RA usually impacts joints, causing the lining of the joint to become inflamed and in some cases damaged. When joint tissue is damaged, it can result in chronic pain, unsteadiness, and joint misshapenness. RA can also impact other tissues in a person’s body, causing problems in the heart, lungs, or eyes.
Symptoms of RA include:

  • Pain or stiffness in more than one joint
  • The same symptoms on both sides of the body (for example, both knees)
  • Onset in smaller joints such as the hands or feet
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Inflammation of blood vessels and/or the heart muscle

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage in a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. OA usually develops slowly and gradually becomes worse over time.

Symptoms of OA include:

  • Pain or aching
  • Limited range of motion or flexibility that may go away after movement
  • Stiffness or swelling
  • Muscle weakness around a joint
  • Clicking or popping noises when bending a joint
  • Joint instability

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
The goal of any treatment plan for RA or OA is to reduce pain and inflammation and to prevent additional joint damage. To accomplish this, an older adult’s physician will determine the best course of action which may include both medical intervention strategies as well as lifestyle changes such as:

  • Exercise. While it may seem counterintuitive to move joints that hurt, incorporating joint-friendly physical activity into a person’s weekly routine can help decrease arthritis-related pain while increasing function, mood, and quality of life. Aim for approximately 30 minutes of low-impact activity each day, such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy. The goal of physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) is to make daily activities easier and less painful. Both PT and OT can help increase range of motion and fine motor skills, build strength, and increase balance so that older adults can continue to live active and independent lives.
  • Healthy Diet. Eating a well-rounded, low-fat diet that is high in lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables provides a variety of benefits, including reducing inflammation. Foods like tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, almonds, olive oil, leafy greens, and salmon have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit individuals with arthritis.
  • Weight Loss. Added weight can make joints more painful. Incorporating regular exercise and eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, as well as making other healthy lifestyle choices can help keep weight in a range that reduces the stress on painful joints.
  • Medications. A number of over-the-counter and prescription medications are available that can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with RA and OA. Options include NSAIDs, acetaminophen, menthol, or capsaicin creams that block the transmission of pain signals from joints, steroids and immunosuppressants.
  • Assistive and Mobility Devices. Assistive devices include a broad range of tools such as extended-handle tools that can help people pick items up off the floor, lever handles instead of traditional round doorknobs, zipper pulls, long-handled shoehorns, a bath stool, and more. Additionally, mobility devices such as a cane, walker, knee brace or shoe inserts can also help reduce pain, while allowing people to remain active.

If an older adult you love is impacted by arthritis, let the referred care providers at American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care help. With customized care plans developed to meet the unique needs of each individual we care for, the professional care providers we refer can help encourage regular exercise, plan and prepare healthy and nourishing meals, provide medication reminders and transportation to physical therapy or doctor’s appointments, and much more.

Reach out to us any time to learn more about our wide variety of in-home care services that help older adults throughout Florida remain independent and active by clicking on the link to the location nearest you:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661

Top Tips to Manage Arthritis Pain in Older Adults


Arthritis pain impacts an astounding one in every two older Americans, and can cause seniors to limit physical activity – leading to a vicious circle of additional pain and discomfort. The top-rated referred care providers at American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care offer the following suggestions to ease arthritis pain in older adults and lead to a better quality of life.


  • Heat and cold therapy Both heat and cold can help with improving circulation, reducing muscle spasms, and relieving stiffened muscles and joints. Some individuals respond better to heat, and others to cold, so try both to see which works best for a senior you love. Be sure to place a thin towel between the senior’s skin and the source of heat or cold, and then apply a heating pad, heat wrap, air-activated heat patch, cold wrap or pad, a small bag of ice or frozen peas. Remove after no more than 10 – 15 minutes to protect the skin.
  • Massage Gentle massage, with lotion or oil to reduce friction on the skin, can help relax painful joints and muscles, and also promote better sleep. Warming the area first as mentioned above can help prevent any pain that may be experienced.
  • Healthy lifestyle choices Losing weight removes extra pressure on the knees and other joints. For a senior who is overweight, talk with the doctor for a recommended diet and exercise plan, and then help the senior stay motivated to stick with the plan. Having someone to exercise with is a great motivator, so join in and work out together!

The referred Florida in-home care experts at American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care can help seniors with arthritis to feel more comfortable too. Whether the need is for transportation to medical appointments, planning and preparing healthy meals, offering encouragement and opportunities to remain physically active, or a wide range of other care needs, families trust our referred care providers to make life the very best it can be for seniors at home.

Contact us any time for more information and additional tips and resources to help with better management of arthritis pain in older adults. You can reach us by clicking the appropriate link below for the location that is nearest to you.

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661