Arthritis Is Not Only A Disease Of The Elderly Anymore!
“Genetic factors combined with a current fast life can lead to an early onset of arthritis”
Arthritis or inflammation of the joints is predominately known as the disease of the elderly, but not anymore’ Today, an increasing number of people in their thirties are beginning to show symptoms and signs of joint pain.
When our joints get stiff, swollen or red, the inflammation affects not just the joints, but also the connective tissue (cartilage) that surrounds the joints. The joint surfaces lose their smoothness and any kind of movement then, results in friction of the joints. This causes further trauma to the joint and may result in a change in the surrounding muscles and ligaments. The pain may then spread to the back or even the ankles.
Causes Of Arthritis
As one ages, it is normal for the cartilage to wear and tear, giving rise to joint pain. Genetic factors combined with a current fast life, can lead to an early onset of arthritis. But the other contributory factors leading to the onset of arthritis in the young include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Long hours of sitting at a computer- this stretches the muscles along the neck, resulting in pain impacting the shoulder joint
- Increased consumption of sugary foods, alcohol and cigarettes
- Deficiency of vitamins
- Upsurge in the uptake of steroids that get unknowingly consumed via health/nutrition products aimed at body building
- Increased longevity that increases the susceptibility to diseases, including arthritis
A 2015 study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on 500 patients residing in Delhi for a period of 10 years and more, show that deteriorating environmental conditions such as air pollution also aggravates joint pain.
Symptoms of Arthritis
- Pain in the joints
- Tenderness and stiffness around the joints
- Difficulty in mobility/movement
- Swelling of joints
- Redness around the joints
- Muscle weakness
- Stiffness experienced in the early hours of morning
Types of Arthritis
The most prevalent types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
In osteoarthritis, it is the weight bearing joints (knee, spine and hip) that get still and swollen. This happens when the cartilage has broken down, affecting the underlying bone. Often joints on one side may be more affected and OA of the knee is more common.
An x-ray reveals the swelling of the joint.
Known to occur more amongst the middle-aged and above, OA may also be the result of a previous impact/injury to the joint and/or obesity. People born with different leg lengths are also more at risk of developing OA. Osteoarthritis in the young may be genetic in nature but jobs with long hours of standing may put additional stress on the joints, aggravating OA.
Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the hands, wrists, and feet. When affected with RA, the body’s immune system breaks down and the body attacks itself and inflammation is the most common symptom. Persons suffering from RA often complain of swollen, warm, and painful joints. Joints may be stiff, particularly early in the morning on waking or following prolonged inactivity. Women are two and a half times more susceptible to develop RA and it can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Arthritis In The Young
It is said India is home to more than 18 million cases of arthritis per year and recent studies show an emergence of the disease in the relatively young – those in their thirties and forties, with the incidence more common in the urban population.
Analysis of more than 250 bone scans done in 2012 to evaluate the incidence of osteoarthritis in India revealed some interesting insights. The study found as many as 34 per cent of people in the age group of 20-40 years suffering from arthritis, though they were not aware of it and had not shown any obvious symptoms. The young also showed a tendency for single joint site pain as against multiple joints seen in the older age groups.
Lifestyle has a compelling role to play in the onset of arthritis and this can be gauged by the fact that even the non-obese young showed an increasing tendency of osteoarthritis of the ankles and shoulders.
Patients suffering from arthritis generally tend to ignore the pain till it becomes unbearable.
Self-medication further delays the start of appropriate treatment. While arthritis has no known cure, early diagnosis goes a long way in alleviating pain and discomfort. The young ailing from arthritis and for whom medications do not provide complete relief, may consider surgery. Also, recent advances in technology have made knee replacement surgeries easy.
Additionally, the availability of hi-tech, high compatibility and frictionless oxidized zirconium (oxinium) implant material for knee replacements help the young recover faster and resume normal life. Prevention however is the best treatment! Also, a combination of healthy diet and exercise is the easiest way to keep arthritis at bay.