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By Asanda Mbayimbayi

Digital Intern

Causes of Arthritis in young adults

Arthritis is a condition causing joint inflammation, resulting in pain and stiffness. it affects people of all ages, including young adults,

Arthritis is a common condition that causes joint pain and stiffness for many people around the world.

It comes in different types and can affect anyone, making it a leading cause of disability.

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, said arthritis is incorrectly assumed to be linked with getting older.

“Arthritis is often associated with ageing, but it’s a misconception that it only affects the elderly.

“Arthritis can strike at any age, including in young adults. However, with the right treatment, support, and a positive mindset, young adults with arthritis can manage their condition and lead fulfilling lives,” said Hewlett.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis comes in different types and makes joints swell, leading to pain and stiffness.

Usually, it’s more common in older adults, but it can also affect young people, including teenagers. When young folks get arthritis, it can be tough because it messes with their active lives and plans for the future.

Types of Arthritis affecting young adults

According to Affinity Health, several kinds of arthritis can impact young adults, but two are especially prevalent:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): This autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system assaults the synovium – the membrane lining surrounding the joints – by mistake. It typically begins in young adulthood and can affect several joints.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA): JIA is a term used to describe several types of arthritis that occur in children and adolescents, usually before age 16. Some forms of JIA can persist into adulthood.

Other forms of arthritis, like psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and reactive arthritis, can also occur in young adults. Reactive arthritis often develops as a response to infections.

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Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Symptoms of Arthritis in young adults

Arthritis does not care about age, and the symptoms can be just as challenging for young adults as for older people. Typical symptoms include:

  • Joint Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced Range of Motion
  • Fever

Diagnosing Arthritis in young adults

Identifying arthritis in young adults can be difficult as the symptoms may resemble those of other conditions.

If you or a young adult you’re aware of is facing ongoing joint pain or other worrying symptoms, it’s crucial to seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Affinity Health outlines the usual steps in the diagnosis process:

Medical History: The healthcare provider will ask about the individual’s medical history, including a family history of arthritis and any recent illnesses or infections.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination will help assess joint inflammation, range of motion, and overall health.

Blood Tests: Blood tests, including rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, may help identify specific types of arthritis.

Imaging: X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can provide detailed images of the joints and help diagnose underlying concerns.

Joint Fluid Analysis: If needed, a sample of joint fluid may be extracted and examined for signs of inflammation.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Management and treatment

Different treatments and adjustments to your lifestyle can help in handling the condition and improve your overall well-being.

Based on the type and intensity of arthritis, medical professionals may recommend medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), or biologics to reduce inflammation and manage symptoms.

Physical therapists can create exercises to enhance joint mobility, strength, and function, while occupational therapists assist individuals in learning techniques to handle daily tasks effectively despite weakened joints.

For pain relief, methods like heat and cold therapy or over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful, and in some cases, surgical interventions like joint replacement may be required.

Coping with Arthritis as a young adult

Receiving an arthritis diagnosis can feel daunting, but it’s important to know that many young adults with arthritis lead satisfying lives. Affinity Health provides some approaches for coping with Arthritis:

  • Educate Yourself: Understanding your condition and treatment options empowers you to make informed decisions.
  • Seek Support: Connect with support groups or therapy to share experiences and coping strategies.
  • Advocate for Yourself: Be an active participant in your healthcare.

Communicate openly with your healthcare provider.

  • Ask questions
  • Embrace Self-Care: Prioritise self-care activities that promote mental and emotional well-being.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down your goals into achievable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

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