Living with Arthritis

Daniel Leffingwell MS, RN

November 8 2015




An estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.


An estimated 27 million adults had osteoarthritis in 2005


Nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic knee OA by age 85 years.


In 2010-2012, 49.7% of adults 65 years or older reported an arthritis diagnosis.


About 1 out of every 5 US adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The term arthritis includes more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, the most common of which is osteoarthritis.



What can I Do?


If you have arthritis, there are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.



Physical Body Modifications:



·       control your weight to ease pressure on your joints

·       avoid stress or injury to your joints to prevent or reduce the severity of osteoarthritis

·       ensure good posture to strengthen healthy joint structure

·       use physiotherapy and a walking stick or cane to help prevent your condition getting worse

·       ensure that you regularly undertake weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, to help prevent osteoarthritis. This type of exercise will increase the strength of

·       the muscles that support your joints.

·       Exchange high heels for flats – high heels are bad for your posture and make you more prone to falling, so wear flat, comfortable footwear.

·       Don’t drink too much alcohol – alcohol can affect your balance, making you more likely to fall.

·       Check your sight – as you get older, you will probably experience some deterioration in your eyesight. It is important to get your sight checked regularly by a

·       qualified optician. Poor eyesight can increase your risk of accident and injury.


Discuss the role of swimming and even modified weight lifting to strengthen the muscles and support joints.


The American College of Sports Medicine now recommends weight training for all people over 50, and even people well into their 90s can benefit. A group of nursing home residents ranging in age from 87 to 96 improved their muscle strength by almost 180 percent after just eight weeks of weightlifting, also known as strength training. Adding that much strength is almost like rolling back the clock. Even frail elderly people find their balance improves, their walking pace quickens, and stairs become less of a challenge.




How to adapt your Home;


·       key turners and door knob covers – pull down door handles

·       specially designed scissors with large handles

·       book holders to avoid strain on the wrists and joints

·       pick-up reachers (a tong-like implement that makes reaching for and grasping objects easier)

·       rubber grips for pens and pencils. These mean you will not have to grip as hard

·       ejector seat chairs, which may help people with limited mobility

·       light, long-handled brooms and dustpans to avoid bending.

·       Eliminate home hazards – always keep your home well lit and remove all loose wires and cords that you may trip over. Make sure treads, rugs and carpets are secure.

·       Keep rubber mats by the sink and in the bath to prevent slipping and always clean up spills immediately.

·       Install grab rails in the bathroom and toilet to help you stand up without falling.

·       Your doctor may be able to provide support and advice about safety in the home.

·       Improve your balance – exercise that helps improve your balance can prevent falls. Ideal forms of exercise for improving balance include tai chi, yoga and dance.

·       Get ideas from the audience





Medical Treatments

Ask the audience for a list of treatments that they have tried.

Heat – paraffin wax


Herbal medicines (always report these to your doctor)

Traditional Medicines NSAIDS, COX inhibiters, Biologics (Humira story)






1.        Centers for Disease Control: Arthritis-related Statistics

2.         Centers for Disease Control - Benefits of Strength Training

3.        Living with Arthritis-Health Direct Australia