Health Topic


Arthritis causes joints to swell and stiffen. It can start at any age but is most common in older adults. Arthritis can cause permanent damage to your joints if left untreated. It’s important to understand it and to talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing joint pain.

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Types of Arthritis

Know the four common types.

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but older adults are most often affected by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, late-onset rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

  • Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age. It affects joints such as the fingers, hips, and knees.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects the hands, fingers, toes, and feet. It usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs after the age of 60, but its symptoms can begin earlier than regular rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Gout happens when uric acid builds up in the body, often causing pain in the toes and feet.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in older adults. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage (the cushions around your joints) to wear away. The bones will rub against each other without cartilage. You might feel pain in your fingers, knees, or your hips. It usually happens as you get older. Injuries can lead to arthritis at a younger age.

Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly. You may notice pain or soreness when you move certain joints or when you’ve been inactive for a long time. You may feel sore or stiff when you wake up. Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. There are many effective treatments that include pain management.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that most often affects the hands, fingers, toes, and feet. It causes stiffness, pain, and swelling in the joints.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. Symptoms usually occur between the ages of 30 to 50.

There isn’t a cure for rheumatoid arthritis yet. Fortunately, there are ways to treat it that can help reduce pain and swelling.

Elderly-onset Rheumatoid Arthritis

When rheumatoid arthritis starts between ages 60 and 65, it’s called elderly onset or late-onset RA. Late-onset RA usually strikes large joints like the shoulders. It tends to be less severe than other types of arthritis but it can cause fever, muscle pain, weight loss, and anemia.

There isn’t a cure for late-onset RA, but it typically takes less of a toll on your body.


Gout can occur in any joint. It most often appears as intense and sudden swelling in the joints of the feet, most often the big toe. It usually occurs without warning in the middle of the night.

Gout can occur for many reasons. Its primary cause is a build up of uric acid. Uric acid can build up because of your diet. It can also build up due to kidney issues, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

Gout is also linked to family medical history and genetic factors. It affects men more often than women.

You can reduce your risk for gout by avoiding foods that cause uric acid to build up. These foods include red meat, seafood, foods with yeast, and dried fruits like dates and figs. It can help to eat more greens like asparagus, spinach, and kale, and fruits with high water content.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Arthritis can be difficult to diagnose. That’s because there’s more than one type and the symptoms can be so different. Your doctor may test you to help figure out if your symptoms point to arthritis.

  • X-rays can check for cartilage loss and joint damage.
  • Ultrasounds or MRIs can be used to see cartilage and soft tissue damage.
  • Lab tests on your blood, urine, and joint fluid can check for inflammation.

Self-Care Tips

Here some things you can do at home to relieve joint pain:

  • Apply hot and cold packs on your joints if you feel pain or inflammation.
  • Rest, raise, relax, and gently exercise your joints on a regular basis.
  • Wear braces or splints to protect your joints.

Controlling Arthritis

A doctor may prescribe medication or even recommend surgery to help with your arthritis pain. There are also lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce the impact of arthritis.

Could you maintain a healthy body weight?

Your body weight can affect your chances of developing arthritis. Extra weight puts more strain on weight-bearing joints including your arms, legs, feet, fingers, and toes, as well as your spine.

Could you eat healthier?

Focusing on your daily nutrition can help you maintain a healthy weight. One key healthy eating habit is to check food labels. Look for low sugar and salt (sodium) levels. You should also snack on vegetables rather than chips and candy.

Could you be more active?

Regular activity keeps your body working better and helps prevents stiffness in your body. Daily stretches and simple, low-impact activities can do wonders for your health and your joints.

Could you quit smoking?

Smoking has been shown to increase your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Could you learn more from you doctor about arthritis?

Yes, you should see your doctor regularly to help control arthritis. Let your doctor know about any pain, symptoms, or discomfort you’re feeling, and how it’s affecting your daily life. There are many arthritis treatment plans available. Your doctor can help you find the one that is best for you.


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