Mind & Body
Arthritis: A Disease Affecting All Ages
3/1/2020 12:00:00 AM


When you hear the word, "arthritis,” you probably think of someone in their senior years being affected by this disease that wreaks havoc on joints, not a younger adult in the prime of their life. But things like sports injuries and obesity have caused an increase of arthritis cases in adults ages 18 to 65, according to the latest research.  

The study, released by Boston University, found that of the approximately 91 million adults who have arthritis, one-third of the sufferers were between the ages of 18 and 64.  This is 68% higher for this age group than previous reports. 

According to Dr. Jonathan Foret, orthopaedic surgeon with Center for Orthopaedics, as you age, there is certainly an increased risk of developing arthritis, mainly because of the wear and tear that your joints withstand over the course of your life, but age isn’t the only factor. The obesity rate in the U.S. has been on the rise since the 1970s, and obesity has been directly linked to many health issues, including arthritis. Alternately, being overly or unsafely active – especially in a way that results in an injury or multiple injuries – can also play a part in receiving an arthritis diagnosis. "Because of the multiple factors involved in a person developing arthritis, it’s important to always be mindful of your bone and joint health – regardless of your age,” says Dr. Foret. 

He says younger and middle-aged adults are much more likely to hear messages about preventing heart disease or diabetes than about arthritis. "But joint health has a big impact on your quality of life and can spur a number of other health issues by leading to a less active lifestyle.”

There are many myths flying around this disease, such as the fact that exercise worsens the symptoms of it. While vigorous and unsafe exercise is listed as one of the main causes of arthritis in adults under 65, Dr. Foret says safe, regular exercise can often help keep your joints healthy and ease the symptoms of arthritis. Experts say to maximize the benefits of your exercising, alternate aerobic exercises and strength training.  "Not only does exercise take the stress off your joints by keeping you at a healthier weight, it will also strengthen the muscles around the joint allowing it to be more supported,” adds Dr. Foret. "The key is finding a happy medium to your level of physical activity, and luckily, that ‘medium’ has a pretty wide range.”

Another way to help ease the effects of this disease is to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines all contain these polyunsaturated fats that have the superpower of helping reduce inflammation in the body, thus alleviating the effects of arthritis. The most effective way of reaping the benefits of these oils is to take a fish oil supplement which includes a larger amount of oil from those fish than you would get from simply having a filet for dinner. The two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are EPA and DHA. Besides reducing inflammation in the body, they also have been shown to help prevent heart attacks and lower blood pressure, proving to be versatilely rewarding to your health.  

Those everyday tasks that you don’t think of as being triggers for your joints can add up over time and cause issues for you later. "Even if you’re still young and active, be sure to lift heavy objects correctly – with your knees and hips and not your back – and carry items close to your body to avoid putting any extra strain on your wrists,” advises Dr. Foret. "Paying attention to these small things will protect your joints regularly and slow the wear and tear that happens naturally over time.”

If you do begin to notice pain and swelling in your joints, Dr. Foret says not to put off making an appointment with your doctor. "Arthritis is progressive and will worsen the longer you wait to begin addressing it. Regardless of your age, you can maintain your mobility longer by paying attention to your joint health and if you notice a problem, seeing a doctor sooner, rather than later.”  

For more information about joint health and arthritis, visit www.centerforortho.com. 

Posted by: Lauren Morris | Submit comment | Tell a friend


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