Arthritis Does Not Just Affect Seniors

It is a common misconception only seniors suffer from arthritis. Although it is true you are more likely to experience arthritis the older you become, many young adults suffer from arthritis.

As of writing, out of the 350 million people who suffer from arthritis worldwide, more than half are younger than 65 years of age. Arthritis normally develops over time but it can also appear suddenly. It is common in people who are overweight. Arthritis is more common in women than in men.

Arthritis is a condition causing an inflammation of your joints. Common symptoms include pain of the joints, swelling and stiffness. There are varying levels of arthritis. Even minor causes of arthritis can disrupt your life. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are multiple treatments available to help reduce arthritis-related pain. Information about how arthritis can affect your life is covered below.

What is arthritis?

There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Each one has different causes and requires different treatment. The two most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis occurs due to usual wear and tear of cartilage tissue. An injury or infection can exacerbate it. If there is a family history of osteoarthritis, then you may have a higher risk of suffering from the condition.

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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system attacks your body’s tissue. This has an effect on your joints’ soft tissue, which would normally produce a fluid to lubricate your joints and nourishes the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis can eventually lead to the bone and cartilage of your joint being destroyed.

With this type of arthritis, you may experience frequent and sudden fatigue and have a loss of appetite. Additionally, you may experience a slight fever. Finally, you could become anemic from rheumatoid arthritis.

Young People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million people in the United States and it is more common in young people than you may think. The chances of someone in their twenties developing rheumatoid arthritis is one in 2,778 for men and one in 714 for women.

Rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to live with for any sufferer but it can be even more of a challenge for young people. It is not only difficult to live with on a physical level, but it is akso emotionally draining. Major events that occur early on in life, such as graduating, embarking on a career and starting a family can all be delayed by rheumatoid arthritis. Even missing smaller life events, such as participating in sports or going on long walks can lead to depression in children or teens with arthritis.

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, it can be managed with medications. These include anti-inflammatory medications, disease-modifying antirheumatic medications and steroids. Unfortunately, many of these medications come with side effects such as weight gain, an increased susceptibility to infection and liver damage.

Young People With Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is another type of arthritis commonly associated with the elderly, but young people can develop osteoarthritis as well. This is especially true of youngsters who are heavily involved in sports. Damage to the articular cartilage can be caused by repetitive impact, which is likely in high school sports such as football, hockey and soccer. Even if you are not an athlete, you may develop osteoarthritis at a young age. More than 50 percent of osteoarthritis conditions are hereditary.

Many young people do not realize they have osteoarthritis. This is because they generally have a higher pain tolerance and feel invincible. As a result, children and teens are less likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis until the later stages, so it is important parents know the symptoms of osteoarthritis to look for. Stiffness, crepitation, localized pain, morphological deformities and a reduced range of motion are all signs of osteoarthritis.

Although exercise may have caused osteoarthritis, the best treatment for it is actually more exercise. The important thing for young people with osteoarthritis is to take the right number of breaks from their physical activities. Speak to a doctor to know how to balance the amount of exercise and resting. Physical therapy, such as muscle stretching, muscle strengthening, and neuromuscular control exercises can help youngsters with osteoarthritis.

Getting Diagnosed

If you suspect you have arthritis, then the first step is to see your primary care physician. He or she performs a physical examination to check things like the fluid around your joints and your range of motion. You may then be transferred to a specialist for further checks. Alternatively, you could make an appointment with a rheumatologist first. He or she may be able to give a faster diagnosis than a traditional doctor.

The diagnosis process may include the extraction and analysis of inflammation levels in your joint fluids and blood. Blood tests can help to determine the type of arthritis by checking for specific antibodies such as rheumatoid factor, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide and antinuclear antibody. Imaging scans like MRI, X-ray and CT scans may be performed to create an image of your cartilage and bones. This allows your doctor to rule out other causes of your symptoms.

How to Help Ease the Pain of Arthritis

If you have arthritis, then there are several steps you can do take to ease your pain. The following three methods can reduce pain from arthritis:

  • Swim – The buoyancy of water can relieve the stress put on to joints. There are specific aquatic therapy sessions you can participate in but any swimming can help.
  • Lose weightIf you are overweight, then you are putting extra pressure onto your joints. Each pound of your body weight puts three pounds of pressure onto your joints. Going on a diet can make a huge difference in the amount of pain you experience from arthritis.
  • Use a cane – Young people with arthritis may feel embarrassed at using a cane, as it is associated with old people, but using a cane helps to redistribute your weight. This means you are able to move more freely and experience less pain.

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