General Health Tuesday January 31, 2012

Are we ever too young to worry about arthritis?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the aches and pains of joints and bones were solely the concerns of those of older generations. Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t typically the case as more and more ‘younger’ arthritis sufferers are in need of relief, treatments and joint replacements.

Factors such as rising obesity levels and even the fact that people are living longer are linked to the increased demand for surgery and long-term relief. But as research has not yet proven the durability of these measures, should we make an asserted effort to decrease the risk of this painful condition? In other words, are we ever too young to worry about the risk arthritis?

Rise of younger sufferers

Figures have shown that there are a growing number of people in their 50s (and younger) who require surgery on their knees. But, as suggested by medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, further research needs to be carried out as to whether or not this is viable in terms of the longevity of joint replacement in people expected to live to a considerably older age.

It is fairly evident that elderly people are generally less active as a consequence of the general effects of ageing; the stresses and strains of life, or previous illness or injury, were the original causes of joint problems in their later years. The case being so, knee replacement surgery could be done with the confidence that the benefits would enable elderly patients to go about their everyday lives.

The problem with knee surgery on younger patients, however, is that with a fair few more years of their lives ahead of them, and with the need to go back to busy lifestyles, would they feel the effects as much as their elderly counterparts?


It is not only a longer-living population that is suggested to be the cause for the increased strain on our knees and the need for surgery, but also the issue of dietary health.

As more and more cases of obesity are reported in young people, it doesn’t seem too surprising that the number of younger sufferers experiencing arthritic symptoms is on the rise.

With a wide variety of health complaints linked to obesity, there is an ever-pressing need to highlight the importance of good diet and exercise, not just for young people but for all ages.

Something to think about

At present, there is no cure for arthritis, which affects around 9 million people in the UK. With such symptoms as general pain and stiffness, inflammation, and limited mobility, the condition can make even the simplest of tasks that much more difficult.

Yet, there are ways to alleviate the pressures of arthritis, including exercise which can bring relief and keep joints working. It’s all about getting the right balance. Strenuous activity can be the cause of the pain, but just the right amount can improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. Understand and work your body in a way that is appropriate for you.

Future treatment

Whilst there needs to be further study into the durability of knee replacements, especially for younger patients, there are existing, alternative treatments. Apos Therapy is a “personalised programme of care that’s clinically proven to improve mobility and alleviate pain”, with a focus on correcting posture and ways in which we move and walk.

According to Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis UK, “joint replacement design and surgical technique are improving all the time.”

If he’s right, this is good news for sufferers of arthritis. But, the emotional aspect of the condition mustn’t be forgotten. Arthritis can take its toll on the lives of many who have to deal with painful symptoms. Let’s hope that as technology improves, so does the support for the emotional needs of those who suffer.

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