Oh, those aching joints! A great number of senior citizens encounter the pain, discomfort and stiffness that are the hallmark traits of arthritis, and presume it has got to be the cause. Yet in reality, there are a number of conditions that emulate arthritis symptoms, but in many instances need to be dealt with differently to provide relief. Prior to popping another ibuprofen and hoping it brings relief, look through the list below of other diagnoses that might be at play, courtesy of the Topeka caregivers at Grace Home Care.


While very similar to arthritis in the bone and joint pain it causes, fibromyalgia won’t generally cause swelling, nor is it degenerative. There is no erosion or disfigurement of joints, but instead it tends to create soreness in different areas of the body. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that most frequently occurs in women, causing the brain to overreact to the body’s pain signals.


Much like fibromyalgia, lupus doesn’t erode or disfigure the joints, but the discomfort experienced can be deceivingly similar to that of arthritis, although usually somewhat milder. Lupus, however, as an autoimmune disease, also affects internal organs, skin, and blood vessels, besides the joints.


Gout actually is a certain form of arthritis, but is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood and typically presents first in the big toe with intensive pain, swelling, redness and warmth. Left untreated, gout starts to erode and deform the joints, as with the effects of arthritis, and can possibly impact any area of the body. Areas of uric acid crystals can usually be noticed on the skin as well, helping to distinguish it from typical arthritis.

Lyme Disease

Joint and muscle pain, often (but not always) in conjunction with fatigue, body aches, stiffness and a fever, are indicative of Lyme disease, an infectious disease widely 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)

Triggered by infection, this condition is commonly noted on only one side of the body and includes swelling of one specific body part – usually a toe. Swelling 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 generally improves within several months, unlike other kinds of chronic arthritis.

It’s essential for older adults suffering from joint pain or discomfort to arrange for an appointment with the doctor to identify the cause and most effective treatment plan.

The Topeka caregivers at Grace Home Care are here to render help and support in a wide array of ways for those challenged by any condition of aging. Whether the need is for assistance with chores around the house such as cleaning, organizing, and preparing meals, transportation to health-related 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 individual needs.

Contact us to learn more about our in-home senior care solutions or to schedule a free in-home assessment by calling 785.286.CARE.