Often when arthritis is mentioned, people associate it with the elderly, not realising that the young can also contract the disease. Arthritis is defined as an inflammation of one or more of one’s joints. It can be hereditary in young adults or caused by different lifestyle factors.
There are many types of arthritis. The most common ones being are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The ones that affect children and young adults are juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In this one, the body immune starts to mistakenly attack healthy cells. Anterior knee pain occurs around the knee cap and is most common among teenage girls. Perniosis or Chilblains, which are injuries to the skin on hands and feet and is caused by cold temperatures. Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), affects the bones, and Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF).
Dr Douglas Unis, an associate professor of orthopedics at New York City’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says: “People come into my office and they have a kind of vague idea of what arthritis in general means.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory form that causes pain and swelling of the joints. It is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks healthy tissues. The good news is that in young adults, they have better outcomes in treatment.
In osteoarthritis, it affects the whole joint including bone, ligaments, cartilage and muscles, often described as wear and tear. It is thought to be as a result of the joint working extra hard to repair itself.
“I have used painkillers for quite some time to reduce the pain. But sometimes when the weather is chilly, it tends to be worse. At the moment the painkillers are the best I have,” says a resident of Syokimau in Machakos County, east of Nairobi.
According to Dr George Adari, an orthopaedic surgeon in Nairobi, specialising in minimally invasive surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, and fracture care, the most common signs and symptoms involve the joints. Depending on the type, the signs and symptoms include pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, loss of flexibility.
In a paper published in the Journal Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, athletes are more receptive to joint injuries than the average person, putting them at risk of getting arthritis.
According to Dr Unis, a non-athletic people are prone to arthritis due to the weight.
“Obesity is the biggest modifiable risk,” he says.
Too much weight increases the pressure on the joints, causing the cartilage to wear down at a faster rate.
Apart from medicine and painkillers, exercising is very important to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, help control weight and even broaden the range of motion.
Remember, when the damaged joint is used, it causes intense pain due to damaged bones, cartilage, and ligaments from past rheumatoid arthritis.
Many times doctors prescribe medications to lessen the pain but they have no effect on the inflammation. The medicine help to relieve triggered pain from activities one’s joints are not used to. One should visit a doctor for further tests and screening to establish a treatment method if the pain gets worse.