Can Young People Suffer with Arthritis?

Although most of us associate arthritis with aging, the disorder can also affect young adults, teens, and even children. Because the symptoms of arthritis may be similar to those of other injuries or disease conditions, it is important to be diagnosed as promptly as possible. Early intervention can make a substantive difference in effective treatment, especially in those affected at a young age. 

If you live in Nassau, Suffolk, or Queens, you likely have easy access to one of the offices of Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, a center where diagnostic and noninvasive treatment procedures thrive. Why not make an appointment today so you or your child can start feeling better as soon as possible? 

Symptoms of Arthritis

Although there are various other symptoms associated with some kinds of arthritic conditions, arthritis patients generally suffer from the symptoms listed below:

  • Joints that are sore and achy, especially with movement
  • Pain that occurs after long periods of inactivity or after overuse 
  • Stiffness after periods of rest
  • Bony enlargements (sometimes painful) in the middle and end joints of the fingers
  • Swelling of one or more joints (usually in the knees, hips and ankles in the young) 
  • Mechanical sensations, such as locking, catching or grinding, especially in the knees
  • Periods of flareup and remission

If you or your child are suffering with any of these symptoms for more than a week, it’s time to see one of our physiatrists for accurate diagnosis, relief of pain, and increased function and mobility.

Types of Arthritis that May Affect Young People

There are over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions and, while young people are far less likely than more mature adults to suffer from them, millions of teens and young adults, and 300,000 children are diagnosed with arthritis each year. Types of arthritis most likely to impact young people are:

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is the kind most commonly experienced by children and teens. Children are usually diagnosed between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. The word “idiopathic” means that the origin of the condition is unknown, and this form of arthritis is mysterious in other ways. For example, while for some kids the symptoms are only troublesome for a few months; others are troubled by the disease for the rest of their lives. Some children initially have fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash and some develop serious complications as the condition progresses, including inflammation of the eyes. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA,  is an autoimmune disease in which the body targets and attacks the joints. RA is a relatively common cause of joint inflammation in young people.

In both juvenile idiopathic arthritis  and rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues for unknown reasons. It is believed that both hereditary and environmental factors play a part. A genetic mutation may make an individual more susceptible to something in the environment, such as a virus, which may then trigger the disease. 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, though fairly rare in young people. When it does occur in teens or young adults, it is usually the result of an injury, often sports-related, or of repetitive stress. The reason more older people develop osteoarthritis is that it is caused by wear and tear of the joints and the longer you are alive, the more likely you are to have worn your joints out.

The following are contributory factors that may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis at a young age:

  • Congenital abnormalities of a particular joint (hip dysplasia) or of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Obesity which puts added stress on the joints, especially the hips, spine, and knees*
  • Injuries — a seriously injured joint is more likely to become arthritic early in life
  • Overuse of a joint during sports, exercise, or due to a particular occupation
  • Imbalances in growth hormone or excess iron in the blood

*Cases of osteoarthritis in children and teens have increased with the childhood obesity epidemic

It is interesting to note that girls and women are more likely to develop all forms of arthritis. It is theorized that this is due to the stronger immune systems of females and the variations in their hormone levels. 

Why It’s Important To Treat Arthritis in the Young

There are several significant reasons to visit a trained musculoskeletal specialist if you suspect arthritis, particularly in a young person. Making a visit to a highly skilled physiatrist will not only make the patient more comfortable, but will prevent her/his condition from worsening. The following are good reasons to check in with the talented doctors at Long Island Spine where you will:

  • Be thoroughly evaluated and accurately diagnosed
  • Be treated to prevent worsening symptoms such as increased pain, more limited range of motion or mobility, or even possible deformities, like knock-knees or bowed legs
  • Learn ways to exercise that will strengthen your muscles, not stress your joints
  • Learn to maintain a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise
  • Be prescribed supportive devices, if necessary, to stabilize ligaments and tendons of help you walk without pain (like canes or crutches)
  • Experience pain reduction through noninvasive treatments and rehabilitation to help you move more easily

Treatments We Offer for Relief of Pain and Improved Mobility

Our doctors are well aware of how much arthritis pain interferes with an active lifestyle. This interruption in the flow of activity is especially difficult for children and teenagers to bear, not to mention young adults. Our offices provide many different kinds of treatment to relieve pain, increase blood flow, and promote healing, such as: 

  • Customized physical therapy
  • Lubricating injections of hyaluronic acid administered to the knee 
  • Acupuncture
  • Trigger point injections of painkillers and corticosteroids
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) 
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy

If you are young and suffering the woes of arthritis, or if you have a child who is plagued by its premature pain and disability, contact Long Island Spine to explore noninvasive options to improve the situation.