Santa Paula Times

Steve Lehman, Manager of the SCAN Resource Center made the presentation last Wednesday. Lehman focused on osteoarthritis, which is most common in older adults.

Seniors hear presentation on “Living Better with Arthritis”

April 06, 2011
Santa Paula News

Seniors at the Santa Paula Senior Center heard a talk on “Living Better with Arthritis” last week. Steve Lehman, Manager of the SCAN Resource Center made the presentation last Wednesday.  Lehman focused on osteoarthritis, which is most common in older adults.  He said almost all people over 65 have some level of osteoarthritis.

Lehman said that joints are everywhere the bones connect and arthritis is a wearing down of the joint cushions, causing the bones to rub together.  This can also affect nearby tendons and muscles.  “Those of us who live with arthritis know the results,” he added.  The list includes pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, muscle weakness, swelling, deformed joints, cracking and creaking, difficulty with daily tasks, fatigue and falls.  Lehman told the gathering, “In Ventura County over 30 seniors die as a result of falls.  Over a thousand are hospitalized in this county alone.”

He said you can manage and team up with your doctor to suppress the symptoms and prevent disability.  He added that it can progress to deformity if you don’t do something about it.

Lehman noted that the treatment and management of arthritis includes maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity and exercise, home treatments, medicines, devices and tools to make life easier and sometimes joint replacement surgery.

He said that extra weight puts stress on your joints.  To lose or maintain weight he said you should eat five or more of fruits and vegetables a day and eat more whole grains.  He said that you should use exercise to maintain the most use of the affected joints.  He suggested swimming, water aerobics, biking and walking do not irritate joints as much as some other activities.  “But it is important to do activities you enjoy and want to continue doing such as dancing, gardening, tennis, etc,” he added.  “Stretching is good too.”

He listed several home treatments that can help.  “Heat soothes, reduces stiffness and makes movement easier, especially before exercise.”  He said applying heat two or three times a day, 20-30 minutes each time using heat pads, a hot bath or shower, hot packs or paraffin wax will help.  He also said, “Some people find icing painful joints to be a help, but it does not help with mobility of the joint.  Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin and hold it for 10 to 15 minutes.”  He also said to rest between activities.

There are medicines available to ease the pain and lessen swelling.  He said to talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you.  “Work with your doctor to find the right treatment but don’t give up if you don’t feel the benefit right away,” he said.

Devices and tools to help you include a cane or walker, bathroom safety equipment, door knob covers, a large-handled toothbrush, and other specialty tools.

Lehman said joint replacement surgery sometimes becomes necessary for severe ongoing pain when arthritis interferes with daily activities and you can’t function  normally.  He noted that it’s not always as good as new and requires months of physical therapy.  He urged people to take advantage of resources in the community.

This was a part of the Santa {Paula Senior Center educational series, Wellness Wednesdays.  They are held on Wednesdays after the senior lunch.  Dates coming up: April 13, Hypertension, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease; April 27, Better Your Blood Pressure; May 18, No More Medicine Mayhem; June 1, Shopping and Cooking on a Budget; June 22, Maintain Your Brain; July 6, Active Every Day.  The Wellness Wednesdays feature speakers from SCAN Senior Resource Center, The Alzheimer’s Association and FOOD Share.  For more information call 933-4226, ext. 356.