Have you ever met someone in their 20s who says, “I’m too young to feel this old”? It can seem odd because younger generations are said to be more energetic and youthful. However, there are many young adults that experience the painful symptoms of arthritis; yes, even in their 20s.
Arthritis is more commonly seen in the elderly than in young adults.
Arthritis is a blanket term used to describe joint disease. In many cases, young adults will attribute symptoms they may be experiencing as something else and try to push through their pains. This can prolong a correct diagnosis of the source of symptoms.
While a vast majority of people think of a grandmother’s elderly hands or their grandfather’s weak knees as arthritis, it’s much more than a disease of old age.
A common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a result of wear-and-tear on the body. Due to the nature of this type of arthritis, OA sufferers tend to be older in age. However, some OA sufferers are diagnosed in their 30s, 40s, or 50s due to extreme overuse of a joint or joints.
Another form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disorder in which chronic inflammation mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues. Smaller joints may be affected first, such as joints of the fingers and hands. The major joints of the body like hips and knees are common, although other joints like the wrists, fingers, ankles, or feet can also become swollen from inflammation. The joint pain is often coupled with stiffness, pain, and fatigue.
Additionally, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, which if left untreated can cause bone erosion and joint deformities. While this inflammation commonly occurs within the joints, it can spread to other organs. Some affected organs can include skin, eyes, or internal organs like the lungs or heart.
Some of the signs and symptoms of RA include:
- Tender, warm, or swollen joints
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of appetite
According to Cynthia Crowson, M.S. of the Mayo Clinic, RA affects 1.3 million people in the U.S. and it is typically diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 30 and 80. Crowson reported that the odds of someone in their 20s developing RA is a 1 in 714 chance for women, and a 1 in 2,778 chance in men.
Dealing with an arthritis diagnosis as a young adult.
Rheumatoid arthritis can appear decades before other types of arthritis. An individual diagnosed with arthritis in their 60s may seem more likely because of the normal wear-and-tear the joints experienced throughout their lifetime. However, the idea of developing a degenerative joint disease in your 20s can be overwhelming. At a younger age, your body should have more time to heal itself as compared to an elderly person. However, the diagnosis of degenerative joint disease at a young age can mean that your joints are likely to become more damaged as you continue to age.
Knowing your family history can be helpful.
Autoimmune disorders tend to run in families. By knowing if your family members suffer from autoimmune disorders, you can be more aware of the risk and watch for signs and symptoms.
Medications for rheumatoid arthritis relief.
For many RA sufferers, the pain and joint damage from the disease can be managed with medications. A few medication options are disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and pain medications. While medications can bring relief, they also bring the risk of side effects. Many of these side effects can include liver damage, weight gain, or further weaken your already compromised immune system.
Alternatives are available!
At Northeast Knee and Joint Institute, we offer alternatives to medications or surgery with our Regenerative Medicine options. With our PRP Therapy and Stem Cell Therapy options, individuals have experienced relief from their arthritis symptoms. This is because of the regenerative properties within either option that can improve the body’s ability to heal itself. If you or someone you love is considering any of our regenerative medicine options, start with a no-obligation, risk-free consultation today!