Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that is commonly associated with aging. However, it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger patients. In fact, a study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology found that the prevalence of OA in adults under the age of 45 has doubled in the past two decades.
So, what is causing this increase in OA in younger adults?
Several factors may be contributing to this trend, including:
- Increased obesity: Obesity is a major risk factor for OA. Excess weight puts extra stress on the joints, which can lead to cartilage breakdown.
- Increased participation in high-impact sports: Athletes who participate in high-impact sports, such as running and jumping, are at increased risk of OA. This is because these activities put a lot of stress on the joints.
- Previous joint injuries: Previous joint injuries are a major risk factor for OA. Even minor injuries can damage the cartilage in the joints, making them more susceptible to wear and tear.
What can be done to prevent OA in younger adults?
There is no cure for OA, but there are several things that can be done to prevent it or slow its progression. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce the risk of OA.
- Engaging in regular low-impact exercise: Low-impact exercises, such as swimming and walking, are good for the joints because they do not stress them much.
- Strengthening the muscles around the joints: Strong muscles can help to support the joints and reduce the risk of injury.
- Avoid high-impact activities: If you participate in high-impact activities, be sure to warm up properly and cool down afterward.
- Treating joint injuries promptly: If you injure a joint, be sure to see a doctor to get treatment. Prompt treatment can help to prevent the development of OA.
If you are concerned about OA, contact us. We can help you develop a plan to manage your risk factors and prevent or slow the progression of the disease.