Senior Health: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis and How Does it Affect The Elderly

A woman experiencing joint pain from RA

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases experienced by seniors, especially those aged 65 and above. It also affects about 22% of the overall adult population, making it one of the leading health concerns in the country.

There are different types of arthritis, but the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints. Osteoarthritis is much more manageable and is a much simpler form of arthritis. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis has a more debilitating effect on seniors and is a much more complex form of arthritis. Find out how this kind of arthritis can affect seniors' lives and what they can do to treat it.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis. It can cause pain and swelling in people's joints. It also causes fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever. RA is caused by an autoimmune reaction inside the body.

It eventually leads to inflammation and damage to the joints. RA most commonly affects the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and knees. It also affects other body parts, such as the heart and blood vessels.

Seniors with RA often have difficulty doing everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and dressing. They may also find it difficult to walk or climb stairs. In addition, RA can be very painful and make it hard to sleep.

Risk Factors

A few risk factors can increase your chances of developing RA. These include:

Age: The risk of RA increases with age. Most people who develop RA are over the age of 40.

Gender: Women are more likely to develop RA than men.

Family history: If you have a family member with RA, you're more likely to develop the disease.

Smoking: Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of RA.

If you or someone you know has these risk factors, it might be time to see a doctor. In addition, you can do a few things to ease the symptoms of RA.

Knee Pain In An Elderly Person


RA is also known to be comorbid with all sorts of diseases, some of which you might not expect. For example, one common comorbidity of RA is gum disease and tooth loss.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

A recent study from John Hopkins University has found that seniors with RA are likely to experience gum disease and tooth loss. Because of this, they are likely to need treatment for it. The most common treatment for these dental diseases is porcelain veneers. These veneers can protect the gums from further infections while giving the senior a nice, white smile.

Another disease that is comorbid with RA is osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. This makes them more likely to break. Seniors with RA are more likely to develop osteoporosis because of the inflammation and joint damage. It can eventually lead to a loss of height, hunched posture, and back pain.

There are treatments available for osteoporosis, but the most important thing you can do is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To prevent osteoporosis, you can eat a healthy diet, get enough calcium and vitamin D, and exercise regularly.

What are the treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There is no cure for RA, but there are treatments that can help reduce the pain and swelling. The most common treatment is medication. There are different types of medications that can be used to treat RA. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs help reduce the swelling and pain in the joints. They are often used as the first line of treatment for RA.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These drugs help slow the progression of RA by preventing joint damage. DMARDs can be used alone or in combination with other medications.
  • Biologic response modifiers: These drugs help to reduce the inflammation caused by RA. People can use them in combination with DMARDs.
  • Steroids: These drugs help reduce the swelling and pain in the joints. They are often used for a short period because they can have serious side effects.

It's also important to note that surgery is sometimes needed to treat RA. This is usually done if the medications are not working or there is severe joint damage. Joint replacement surgery is an option for people with RA. This surgery replaces the damaged joint with an artificial one.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA can be an excruciating and debilitating disease. It can make it hard to do everyday tasks and can lead to other health problems. However, there are things you can do to make living with RA easier, but by having the necessary treatments, you can live a normal life while having it.


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