Art of Aging: Arthritis

BRYN MAWR, Pa. (WPVI) -- Aching joints and arthritis is one of the most common complaints that sends people over 55 to a doctor.

At 76, Deborah Wolff isn't ready to slow down.

She's splits her time between law practice, and her love of tennis.

"I used to play 4 days a week, now I play 2 days a week," said Deborah.

But time, and a car accident years ago, have caused arthritis in her knees.

Dr. Kendra Zuckerman of Main Line Health said, "Arthritis technically means inflammation in the joints."

She says osteoarthritis is the most common form.

"The most common areas it affects are the fingers, the base of the thumb, the neck, and the lower back, the hips, the

But Dr. Zuckerman says if you're getting pain in the wrists, shoulders, and ankles, or a lot of swelling, fatigue, or weight loss, check them out with a doctor.

It could be a more serious type of arthritis, or possibly another medical condition.

While you can't stop osteoarthritis with medication yet, but you can lessen the pain and stiffness.

Dr. Zuckerman says, "The two most important things are exercise, and for people who are overweight, weight loss."

And it doesn't take big weight loss.

Every pound you lose lessens joint pressure by 3 pounds!

Anti-inflammatory drugs - both oral and topical - can help, too.

Deborah also works on strengthening the muscles supporting her knees.

She said, "I do exercises with weights on my ankles every day - 5 pounds on each leg."

Some small studies suggest plant-based diets can significantly lower pain, and improve daily function.

But until more research is done, remember, you've got to get in motion to stay in motion.

Dr. Zuckerman said, "Probably the worst thing you can do for arthritis is to not move."

Deborah added, "I played tennis this morning."

For more information for seniors, visit our Art of Aging section.
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