Many Affected at a Young Age
Arthritis, mostly thought of as an ailment affecting older generations, is in fact a problem many younger people, even children, face. The Arthritis Foundation says that two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. More than a million are between the ages of 18 and 40. About 50 million Americans in total deal with arthritis.
What is it?
Arthritis is actually a family of musculoskeletal disorders. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is when joint cartilage breaks down. Rheumatoid arthritis is when the membranes lining joints become inflamed. As arthritis progresses, movement becomes limited and pain increases.
Young and Arthritic
What do you do if you’re in your twenties and diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? This can be a daunting challenge, as youth is so often characterized be activity, movement, sports and recreation. Women are more likely than men to have RA at an earlier age. In fact, nearly three times as many women have this disease as men. In women, RA will most often begin between the ages of 30 and 60. Young people in general often won’t seek treatment for arthritis, because they don’t expect it to be a problem at their age, and because symptoms sometimes aren’t visible. Catching the problem early can mean the difference between an active life and a difficult, painful one. Different medicines can help slow the progression of the disease, and certain injections can return functionality to the joints.
Staying physically active can be very important for young people dealing with arthritis. Lack of movement can increase stiffness levels. Young people should also lift weights to protect the joints.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re experiencing worsening joint pain, joints that are swollen and tender to the touch, and the problems are affecting your movement, it may be time to go see a medical professional or orthopedic specialist. Other symptoms include regular morning stiffness, multiple affected joints and fever.