Q: Where are older adults more likely to have painful arthritis, Oregon or Saudi Arabia?
A: The prevalence in chilly, wet Oregon in adults ages 65 to 74 is 49%, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The prevalence in hot, dry Saudi Arabia is 61% for that age group, according to the Saudi Medical Journal.
Do arthritis patients complain that their symptoms are influenced by the cold and wet weather, or even that they can predict a coming storm by their joint pain? There’s plenty of support for this – the Weather Channel even has a daily updated Aches and Pains Index.
While osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, which affects about 2.1 million Americans, is the most severe type. The condition, which has nothing to do with wear and tear, actually is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to turn on itself, attacking not only the joints but sometimes the heart, lungs and eyes as well. Most sufferers are stricken between the ages of 25 and 50. And women are about three times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which affects specific joints, rheumatoid arthritis causes an overall achiness and stiffness that comes and goes. In addition, the disease, which has no cure, tends to launch symmetrical assaults, affecting both hands and feet for example.
Hennepin rheumatologist, Ronald Molony, MD, from the Brooklyn Center Clinic, says, “During flare-ups, aspirin or another anti-inflammatory can provide relief. Heat treatments and massage can also ease joint and muscle pain.
“To reduce episodes and enhance range of motion, regular exercise during periods of remission is essential. The key is knowing your limits and balancing exercise with rest.”
With proper medical care and a sound lifestyle, there is no reason why those with rheumatoid arthritis can’t enjoy long, productive lives.