Are the Elderly the Only Ones at Risk for Developing Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 conditions that affect the comfort and mobility of your joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million women and men in the United States — as well as 300,000 children and teens — have some form of arthritis.  

Our expert rheumatologists at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey treat all of the different forms of arthritis. No matter what your age or occupation, here’s what you need to know to keep your joints safe, get treatment, and prevent the complications of arthritis.

Juvenile arthritis

As with the term “arthritis,” “juvenile arthritis” refers to multiple conditions that affect kids’ joints. In almost all cases, children and teens suffer from some type of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a collection of autoimmune diseases.

If your child has RA, their immune system erroneously attacks their joints, causing inflammation. The inflammation leads to pain and tenderness. The constant inflammation gradually destroys important tissues, such as the cartilage that keeps joints moving smoothly and painlessly.

Joint pain is just one of the symptoms of juvenile arthritis, which can affect many other organs in the body. Classic symptoms include one or more of the following:

If you suspect your child or teen has RA or a related condition, please call us right away for a consultation or a referral to a pediatric rheumatologist. Because children with arthritis usually have RA, they’re at risk for serious complications without treatment and lifestyle modifications. 

Teens and active young people

Teen athletes, active young people, and women and men who engage in manual labor or repetitive activities are also at risk for another type of arthritis called osteoarthritis (OA). Unlike RA, OA develops over time and through overuse or improper use of your joints. 

Student athletes and weekend warriors are particularly prone to osteoarthritis, especially if they injure their joints in a game. 

If your teen has stiff or painful joints, we determine whether they suffer from RA or OA and then devise a treatment and prevention plan. 

Learning how to properly warm up and cool down before and after a sporting event helps athletes of all ages keep their joints safe from the pain and stiffness of OA.

Middle age and beyond

You’re more at risk for OA as you age. Just as your skin loses its strength and resilience, growing thinner with time, so do important joint tissues such as your cartilage and bursa. 

As these protective tissues degenerate, the bones of your joints grind together, causing pain and inflammation.

Repetitive activities — including playing a musical instrument or painting  —  wear down your cartilage and other tissues throughout the years. 

If you’re an athlete, musician, or laborer, you may want to work with a physical therapist to learn how to move more efficiently to reduce stress on your joints. Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles that support your joints, too.

Infectious arthritis

Though it may sound unlikely, you can also get arthritis from bacteria and viruses. If you develop a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, or suffer food poisoning due to salmonella or shigella, those organisms can make their way to your joints. 

Even if the bacteria are killed with antibiotics, the arthritis may remain.

Gout

The foods you eat and the beverages you drink can cause or exacerbate arthritis. Gout, for instance, is a type of metabolic arthritis that tends to develop in the big toe if you eat too much red meat or other foods that are high in purines. 

Though a big toe joint is small, gout can be extremely painful and debilitating.

Don’t dismiss your joint pain just because you’re young and active. If your joints are stiff or painful, you may have arthritis — no matter what your age. 

Call our nearest location or request an appointment using our online tool. We have offices in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey. We offer telemedicine appointments, too.

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