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Managing the Pain of Arthritis

Mrs. Rodriguez has arthritis, which is a painful condition that causes joints to become inflamed, stiff, and swollen. Arthritis is the leading cause of physical disability in the United States, and it is very common among older adults.  There is normally smooth tissue that covers the end of bones and prevents friction when a person moves. In an arthritis sufferer, however, that smooth tissue becomes rough or wears away and the remaining tissues around the joints swell. This leads to stiffness that can make even normal movements difficult and painful.

Lucy is a home health care worker who assists Mrs. Rodriguez with her daily activities. The first thing that Lucy normally does when she arrives at Mrs. Rodriguez’s house in the morning is to remind Mrs. Rodriguez to take her anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications. Lucy reminds Mrs. Rodriguez before she helps her dress and eat breakfast. The medications alleviate some of the arthritis symptoms and allow Mrs. Rodriguez to do more for herself.

After finishing their morning care routine, Lucy helps Mrs. Rodriguez into a sweater and a light pair of gloves, and they go outside to take a short walk. Lucy knows that keeping Mrs. Rodriguez’s affected joints warm and covered also helps to ease the pain. The mild activity of a short walk helps to keep Mrs. Rodriguez’s joints more flexible. When they return to the house, Lucy helps Mrs. Rodriguez take a warm bath. The warm water soothes the affected joints and helps Mrs. Rodriguez to feel more comfortable.

Because of the arthritis in her fingers, Mrs. Rodriguez cannot do some of the activities that she used to enjoy. She always loved working with her hands, and she was a talented artist until the arthritis made it too difficult for her to hold a paintbrush. Lucy helps her to reconnect with her old interests by looking through art books with her and taking her to the art museum when the joint pain is manageable. Although she can’t do everything that she once could, with Lucy’s help Mrs. Rodriguez is coping with her arthritis.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners