The human body is a magnificent creation. Scientists have spent millennia trying to understand how everything in the human body works, but there are still many unanswered questions. Though much progress has been made, a lot more is yet to be discovered. From birth to old age, the human body undergoes tremendous changes. Some are due to hormonal changes and exercise, or the lack of it, while others are due to wear and tear associated with old age and poor nutrition among other things. Some of these changes can be attributed to diseases affecting the bones. Knowing bone maladies affecting seniors is the key to preventing these issues, slowing them down, or mitigating the effects. Keep reading to learn more about bone diseases and conditions that affect the joints and bones of the aging population.
Bone Maladies Affecting Seniors
This is one of the most common conditions affecting the bones of seniors. This is a health condition affecting the strength of bones. It is characterized by weak and fragile bones that can easily break. This can be attributed to reduced bone density due to the effects of aging. During puberty, the presence of testosterone hormone in the body increases bone density, making teens and young adults stronger and less likely to break bones. When aging, however, the level of sex hormones, such as testosterone, usually starts to decline. As a result, bone density starts to reduce and continues to reduce with time. Due to the unhealthy levels of testosterone in seniors, their bones lose density in what is commonly referred to as osteoporosis thinning.
Osteoporosis can be diagnosed through a bone density scan to check for osteoporosis. Thinning can clearly be seen in the scans. In severe cases of this condition, simply sneezing can cause broken ribs. This means that a fall can cause severe breakage of bones in multiple places around the body. These bone breaks usually take a lot of time to heal. The most commonly affected areas include; the wrist, hips, and spinal bones, but it also affects other bones in the body.
When diagnosed early, osteoporosis can be prevented. This can be done with the help of bone-strengthening treatments. Women who have reached menopause are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. However, men can also develop this condition.
This is the most common form of arthritis. It affects hundreds of millions of people all over the world. It is caused by wearing out of the cartilage separating bones at the joints. This cartilage is what prevents bones from grinding against each other. When this protective cushion gets worn out, bones come into contact and grind against each other. The most affected areas are the hips, wrist, knees, and spine, but other joints, such as the ankles and elbow, can also be affected. While the pain and inflammation to the joints can be managed, the damage is irreversible.
As the disease develops, the symptoms might be mild. However, the severity of the symptoms usually increases with time as the malady progresses. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include: pain in the affected joints especially after movement; stiffness when getting out of bed or after a period of inactivity; swelling due to inflammation of the soft tissue around the joint; bone spurs that form around the affected joint and feel like hard lumps; grating sensation due to loss of the cartilage cushion in between the bones in that joint; reduced flexibility in the joints; and tenderness around the joints.
While anyone can develop arthritis whether young or old, male or female, there are some risk factors that can make a certain group of people more prone to developing arthritis than others. Old age, for instance, is a known risk factor. After all, the wear and tear in the bones increase with time. This means that seniors are at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis than younger individuals. Sex is also a risk factor as women are more likely to develop arthritis than their male counterparts. The reason behind this is not yet known. Joint injuries, such as those experienced by athletes, are also known to be risk factors. This means that athletes and individuals involved in active sports are at a higher risk of developing arthritis than other individuals. Genetics also plays a role as some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis. Bone malformities are also a risk factor as some people may have defects in the joints or cartilage. Obesity and repeated trauma to the joints can also put you at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Prevention of the disease is through proper diet and weight management. Regular light exercises can also help to prevent or delay arthritis. In case you have developed this bone condition, you will need to take the pain and anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your doctor regularly.
iii) Rheumatoid Arthritis
This is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease affecting the joints. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body, causing inflammation as a result. A common sign of rheumatoid arthritis is painful swelling around the joints. The most commonly affected joints are the wrist, knees, and hands. RA can also cause other issues around the body that may cause problems in the eyes, lungs, and heart among other organs.
Other symptoms of RA include; weight loss, fatigue, tiredness, fever, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling in numerous places among others. While RA may be an autoimmune disease, its cause is not yet known. However, risk factors include; smoking, obesity, sex, history of live births, genetics, and age. Fortunately, the disease can be effectively managed with the use of prescribed pain and anti-inflammatory medication. Seniors who smoke should avoid smoking. They should also increase their activity level as staying active can help with the management of this disease.
iv) Pagets Disease
This is the second most common bone disease in seniors after osteoporosis. If affects the process of remodeling bones. Please note that the bones in the human body are constantly remodeling, but Pagets disease alters the remodeling process. This means that the bones may experience increased bone removal followed by an even higher bone formation process. The end result is larger bones, which may be softer or deformed, and more prone to fractures. The bone disease can easily be managed at home with anti-inflammatory medication. In severe cases, however, surgery can be done to help improve the condition of the bones.
This is a bone disease caused by a lack of blood supply to the bone tissue. Blood carries with it nutrients that feed the bones. Therefore, the absence of blood can cause bone tissue to start dying off. As a result, the bones get weaker and can easily break. Osteonecrosis can be caused by physical trauma or by excessive use of steroids. If you feel pain that gets worse with time in the bones, you may have osteonecrosis. However, only a qualified medical practitioner can make this diagnosis. The key to preventing this bone condition is to have regular health checks.
vi) Bone infection
This is a common risk associated with surgery. The bone tissue can get infected after surgical procedures, such as hip replacement surgery. It is also possible for an infection from other parts of the body to spread to the bones and cause problems. Seniors who undergo hip replacement surgery and other surgical procedures should be carefully watched to ensure they do not develop bone infections. Please note that bone infection does not just affect seniors, but anyone who undergoes surgery. Treatment is easy with intravenous antibiotics. If left untreated, bone infections can have devastating effects.
vi) Bone Tumors
A tumor inside the bone tissue can be malignant or cancerous. Malignant tumors are the most common. A tumor occurs when cells grow uncontrollably in the bones. The tumor can spread to other bone tissue, but most bone tumors do not. Bone tumors can affect both the young and the old.
This is a common condition affecting the bones of the spine The disease causes these bones to bend to the left or right and often gets worse with time. While the disease usually manifests in teens at puberty, it often progresses with time. This means that seniors usually experience the worst of this disease. While genetics is suspected to be a risk factor, the exact cause of scoliosis is not known. In the United States, over 3 million cases of scoliosis are reported every year.
How to Deal with Bone Maladies in Seniors
Getting professional help is the key to early detection, treatment, and management of bone maladies. Whether you have symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, bone tumors, or rheumatoid arthritis, you need to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In addition to medication, there are also other ways of managing bone issues. For instance, regular exercise can help to improve mobility by reducing stiffness as well as strengthening the muscles around the affected joint. This will go a long way in mitigating the effects of the bone malady on the affected bone or joint.
If you need a bit of everyday help while recovering from bone issues, for those living in Broward or Palm Beach counties, you can just call Boca Home Care Services at (561) 989-0611. And for those in Miami-Dade, Miami Home Care Services (305)749-0445 is an excellent option. These well-established home care companies can send you a dependable home care aide to assist in various activities and provide companionship.