Too Young for Osteoarthritis? Think Again. Arthritis RESEARCH UK AND VOLTAROL HAVE TEAMED UP TO HIGHLIGHT HOW KEEPING ACTIVE CAN HELP MANAGE THE CONDITION

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), July 21, 2017 | Go to article overview

Too Young for Osteoarthritis? Think Again. Arthritis RESEARCH UK AND VOLTAROL HAVE TEAMED UP TO HIGHLIGHT HOW KEEPING ACTIVE CAN HELP MANAGE THE CONDITION


Byline: ABI JACKSON FINDS OUT MORE

THERE are a few conditions we automatically think of as being 'old-age' problems. Dementia, vision and hearing decline, osteoarthritis... But this isn't entirely accurate - osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint disease, can strike in younger age groups too.

"Most people think arthritis is an inevitable part of ageing, but in actual fact, it can affect anyone at any age," says Dr Tom Margham, a GP and spokesperson for the charity Arthritis Research UK. "Regardless of age, the condition can have a significant impact on everyday life."

When Ruby James, 55, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis nine years ago, in her mid-40s, she recalls people being shocked at the news.

"The most common reaction I get when I tell people about my condition is, 'You're too young to have that'. When I was first diagnosed, I thought the same," she says.

In fact, osteoarthritis is relatively common, affecting more than eight million people in the UK. While the majority will be older, it's not uncommon for people to develop the condition in their 40s, and sometimes even younger.

Pilates Unlike joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease - meaning the body's immune system attacks healthy cells - osteoarthritis is associated with 'wear and tear'. In other words, joint damage that develops over time.

For some people, this damage happens faster and is more problematic, with the bones' protective cartilage breaking down, resulting in painful, stiff, inflamed and swollen joints.

Movement and mobility can also be affected, and sometimes bony growths or 'spurs' can occur.

"We still don't know exactly why some people get osteoarthritis at a younger age. (But) we know there are many factors that can contribute to the development of the condition, including genetics, weight and joint injury," says Dr Margham.

For Ruby, it started with pain in her hip, brought on by exercise. Obvious that this was more than a case of overdoing it in the gym, she ended up having to be carried into A&E by her partner because the pain was so severe.

After being examined and given an MRI scan, she was told she'd developed osteoarthritis in the joint.

"My consultant at the time suggested physio, which helped, along with medication. I was told then that there was no cure, and eventually I may have to have a hip replacement."

Of course, wear and tear injuries can be common, and joint pain is something many, if not most, people will experience at certain points. But Dr Margham stresses it's important to get any ongoing or worsening joint pain checked out properly - especially if accompanied by inflammation and swelling.

You may need tests, which can rule out other potential conditions, as well as help diagnose osteoarthritis.

If you do have it, getting the right advice means you'll be able to start managing the condition in the best possible way. …

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