Maybe you’ve heard it from your parents or grandparents, the complaints about aching joints and limited mobility. Your older relatives are slower to get up from their chairs, and they tell you to walk on… they’ll catch up eventually. When their arthritis flares and you witness their discomfort you might pray to not feel that way when you reach their age.
The thing is… arthritis does not discriminate. Joint pain affects people of all ages, races, nationalities and genders. The Arthritis Foundation reports that over 90 million Americans currently suffer some form of physician-diagnosed arthritis or joint pain. Of this population, two-thirds are aged sixty-four and under. Juvenile arthritis and similar pediatric conditions affect over 300,000 children and teens in this country. (Source: Arthritis Foundation)
According to a recent report from CBS News, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are affecting more young adults now than in recent years. The initial symptoms of joint pain are often dismissed and attributed to other issues. Shoes may feel tight or have too high a heel. Hands and wrists may ache from prolonged typing or writing. While this could be the actual case for some people, if some pains are left untreated they may become severe.
Early symptoms of arthritis, often mistaken for temporary conditions, may include:
- Intermittent pains while sitting or standing
- Swelling and redness in the joint area
- Pain following recovery after an injury
Factors that may increase the risk of arthritis in young adults include:
- Family history. Osteoarthritis, in particular, can be hereditary. With OA appearing more frequently in younger people, you may wish to examine your family’s health history.
- Weight and current health. Although the links between obesity and chronic joint pain are tenuous, your overall health can help determine your risks for arthritis.
- Vices and lifestyle. Habits like smoking and excessive alcohol intake may create risks in overall health, and joint pain is one result. Lack of exercise and/or stress is also a contributing factor to joint pain issues.
No matter your age, if you experience pain in any of your joints don’t be too quick to dismiss it as a temporary problem. It could be the sign of a bigger arthritic issue, and a consultation with an orthopaedic physician can help determine a proper diagnosis.