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Osteoarthritis, commonly known as "wear and tear" arthritis, usually occurs in older people but can occur at any age. There are an estimated 27 million American’s aged 25 or older who have osteoarthritis and it can significantly impact life.
People with osteoarthritis can experience severe pain and loss of mobility. They may have to give up work or limit their career choices and may be restricted in their daily activities. For these reasons, some people also suffer from depression.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Joint cartilage becomes damaged. The cartilage acts as a cushion between your joints to enable them to move smoothly. If this wears away, then the bones can end up rubbing together, causing pain and loss of function.
Why do Younger People Get Osteoarthritis?
Joints can wear out at an earlier age for a variety of reasons, including:
• Congenital abnormalities
• Disabilities – if you have a disability that alters your structure or the way you walk, this can result in osteoarthritis due to you putting uneven amounts of weight on the joints. You might also have diminished bone mineral density.
• Genetics – some people may inherit osteoarthritis.
• Hormone disorders such as diabetes
• Obesity – if you are overweight, the extra weight can put pressure on your joints.
• Occupational exposure – if you have a job that puts high impact on the joints, e.g., athletics, this can cause them to prematurely break down
• Injury – if you have been involved in an accident that caused damage to your joints, this could lead to osteoarthritis.
Reducing the Risk
There are several ways you can reduce your risk of getting osteoarthritis, or manage the symptoms if you already have it.
Exercising on a regular basis improves muscle strength around the affected joints so it can decrease pain and help you move more easily. Being active can also reduce your chances of getting arthritis as people who are least active have a higher risk of arthritic joints.
If you already have arthritis and find it painful to move, just walking around your house can help and is better than nothing. You could also try swimming.