Arthritis is a type of joint disorder involving the inflammation of the joints. It can affect one or more joints. Arthritis is commonly used as a general term referring to many types of illnesses all leading to the degeneration or inflammation of the joint. There are very many forms of arthritis illness. Osteoarthritis, being the most common form of arthritis (VanItallie, 2010). It is a degenerative disease of the joints which is as a result of age, trauma to the joint or infection to the joint. Another form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain is the main complainant by people suffering from arthritis. This pain is due to the inflammation that is occurring around the joint, fatigue, forceful movements leading to muscle strains and damage to the joint from the disease.
Thesis statement: An analysis of older adults with arthritis reveals that individuals have different strategies of coping with the disease.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, swelling, different levels of pain, a constant ache around the joint or joints and joint stiffness are the common symptoms for all arthritis disorders. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other body organs leading to a variety of symptoms. These include poor sleep, tenderness, muscle aches and pains, difficulty in moving the affected joint, a feeling of tiredness and malaise, and the inability to walk or use hands. There occur significant secondary changes in advanced arthritis. These changes can impact negatively on the social roles and life of the patient. These changes may include loss of flexibility and muscle weakness.
Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis disorder, affects both the smaller and larger joints of the body. These joints include the knee, feet, hands, hip and back. This disease can occur because of injury; however, it can also occur from the wear and tear of the joint or joints. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is associated with the elderly people. By age sixty, five, around thirty percent of women have some level of osteoarthritis. Sedentary lifestyles, joint trauma coupled with obesity are the main risk factors for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis starts in the cartilage causing the two opposing bones to erode into each other. The condition starts with little pain initially during daily activities, but it escalates and starts occurring even when in a state of rest. Typically, osteoarthritis affects the weight bearing joints like the pelvis, spine and back.
Osteoarthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis disorder, has no cure. It only can be prevented from getting worse. Pain medications are used by individuals suffering from osteoarthritis to dull the pain. Physical therapy, which strengthens the joints and muscles, is very helpful in preventing the disease from getting worse. Losing weight reduces the stress on the joints for some patients hence helping to reduce the joint pain. Surgery may be an option when osteoarthritis has advanced, and the pain is continuous. Joint replacement helps many osteoarthritis individuals (Witter, 2004).
Rheumatoid arthritis is an illness or disorder in which the body’s immune system commences to attack its own body tissues. The immune system not only attacks the joints but also attacks other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis mostly affects the elbow, wrist, finger and knee joints. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to erosion of two opposing bones. This is because the cartilage and joint lining are the most affected. This disease is prevalent in people aged above twenty years. It presents itself as a skin rash, pain, fever or disability in children. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to deformity if not treated in a few years. Also, the disease affects both sides of the individual’s body. Many people can lead a good life with earlier diagnosis followed by aggressive treatment of the disease. The corticosteroids and monoclonal antibodies are the drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and are given intravenously. Remicade is the latest drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It significantly improves the quality of life in the short run. There is no cure for this disease but surgery may be required to replace the affected joints.
Stress, coping and adaptation styles
Stress is the pressure on one’s life that tends to create change. The Person-Environment model (P.E) gives a way to comprehend issues which are related to stress, coping and adaptation. Mostly, stress is good since it aids individuals by making them take action or respond to stressors. On the other hand, distress is not helpful since it is a denial to emotions and feelings resulting from stress. Cognitive appraisal affects how every individual perceives stress. He or she can either diminish or magnify the stress based on his or her appraisal. The Person-Environment Model shows the dynamic between stress and coping response. Coping response is shown as the competence of the individual while perceived stress is pressure which emanates from the environment. Stress adaptation occurs when people change their feeling, behavior or thinking so as to be able to meet the challenge of the environment or stress.
Stress increases significantly as people age. They (people) cope with stress and change through various ways, which are both healthy and unhealthy. Coping mechanisms are planned patterns of working through stressors like writing the advantages and disadvantages of a situation. Unhealthy ways of responding to stress can become well-rehearsed patterns over one’s lifetime. They may not be planned responses. Defense mechanisms are the unhealthy patterns of response. These unhealthy response patterns include denial, projection, repression, regression and fixation, and displacement. An arthritis individual may refuse to accept the reality simply because it is too threatening, therefore, stating and arguing that the disease doesn’t exist. The individual may consciously refuse to acknowledge unpleasant aspects of the environment.
Religion is the most common coping strategies used by the aging citizens. Over 70 percent of older adults have been found to use religion in coping with major life events (Hooyman, 2005). The arthritis older people use religious practices. This practice gives them a sense of wholeness. Religion provides a lot of mental support among older adults suffering from arthritis. Although there are many religions, they all offer the arthritis individuals a community, a sense of belonging and care.
While arthritis affects the older people, there are other factors that affect the level of illness. Mental, social, spiritual and emotional characteristics affect an individual’s response to sickness. Therefore, life doesn’t end when arthritis affects an individual. A healthy coping mechanism will extend the quality of life of older arthritis individuals significantly. In addition to these factors, affordable healthcare determines the quality of life arthritis individuals will lead.
Hooyman, N., & Kiyak, H. (2005). Social gerontology: An interdisciplinary perspective.
VanItallie, T. B. (2010). Gout: epitome of painful arthritis. Metabolism.
Witter, J., & Dionne, R. A. (2004). What can chronic arthritis pain teach about developing new analgesic drugs?. Arthritis Research and Therapy.