Oh, those aching joints! So many older adults experience the pain, discomfort and stiffness that are the hallmark traits of arthritis, and assume it must be the culprit. But in reality, there are a number of conditions that mimic arthritis symptoms, but in many cases need to be treated differently in order to bring relief. Before popping another ibuprofen and hoping it does the trick, read through the following list of alternative diagnoses that could be at play, courtesy of the in home health care NH team at Live Free Home Health Care.
While similar to arthritis in the musculoskeletal pain it causes, fibromyalgia does not typically cause swelling, nor is it degenerative. There’s no erosion or deformity of joints, but instead it tends to create tenderness in different areas of the body. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that most often occurs in women, causing the brain to overreact to the body’s pain signals.
As with fibromyalgia, lupus does not erode or disfigure the joints, but the discomfort experienced can be deceivingly similar to that of arthritis or slightly milder. Lupus, however, as an autoimmune disease, also impacts internal organs, skin, and blood vessels, in addition to joints.
Gout actually is a particular type of arthritis, but is caused by heightened levels of uric acid in the blood and typically displays initially in the big toe with intense pain, swelling, redness and warmth. Left untreated, gout begins to erode and deform the joints, similar to the effects of arthritis, and can impact any area of the body. Patches of uric acid crystals can often be noted on the skin as well, helping to differentiate it from typical arthritis.
Joint and muscle pain, sometimes (but not always) accompanied by fatigue, body aches, stiffness and fever, are indicative of Lyme disease, and is an infectious disease commonly transmitted by ticks. In the advanced stages of the disease, it’s common for one large joint in the lower extremity of the body to become swollen and painful.
Reiter’s Syndrome (Reactive Arthritis)
Caused by infection, this condition is frequently noted on only one side of the body and includes swelling of one particular body part – usually a toe. Inflammation and irritation of tendons, muscles, and ligaments is also inherent to Reiter’s Syndrome, as well as mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis, UTIs and fever. The condition typically improves within several months, unlike other types of chronic arthritis.
It’s crucial for anyone experiencing joint pain or discomfort to schedule an appointment with the physician to determine the cause and most effective treatment plan.
Providers of the in home health care NH seniors trust, Live Free Home Health Care is on hand to provide assistance in a variety of ways for those challenged by any condition of aging. Whether the need is for assistance with chores around the home such as cleaning, organizing, and preparing meals, transportation to medical appointments and other outings, help with safe bathing and dressing, or simply a friendly companion to improve quality of life, we’re available with the personalized care each senior needs.