Arthritis is usually associated with older adults, but the condition can affect people of all ages, including children and young adults. In fact, in the US alone, around 294,000 children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with arthritis or similar rheumatic conditions.
Living with arthritis is tough at any age, but the condition can be especially hard on young people eager to stay active. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, arthritis doesn’t have to detract from your enjoyment of life. This post will look at some early warning signs to watch out for, and explore what young patients can do to manage their symptoms.
Early warning signs of arthritis in young people
The early signs of arthritis can vary slightly between patients. Some find that symptoms hit them suddenly, while others experience a gradual increase in their symptoms over time.
For many patients, arthritis first makes itself known in a single joint, such as the neck, a knee, or an ankle. The joint may feel sore, swollen, stiff, or painful. In other cases, recurring pain or swelling is felt in more than one joint. It is possible for pain to disappear from one joint only to reappear somewhere else, or for it to spread to several joints simultaneously.
You may find that physical activities like playing a sport or walking trigger inflammation or cause pain. Or you may notice that your joints feel sore and stiff when you wake up in the morning. Arthritis can also bring flu-like symptom, including weakness, fatigue, and even a fever.
If you or someone you love is showing early signs of arthritis, it’s important to speak to a doctor to confirm a diagnosis and decide how best to manage the condition.
Living with Arthritis: Tips for Young Patients
For young people with arthritis, it’s easy to feel isolated and discouraged. A solid support system can make the condition easier to cope with. This could include friends and family, or a dedicated group online or in person for fellow patients.
While your doctor will help you find a treatment plan that works for you, there are several lifestyle changes you can make that can significantly reduce pain and swelling, making it easier to do the things you love. This includes eating a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins, and maintaining a healthy weight. Certain foods can actually help reduce inflammation while others can trigger it, so speak to your healthcare provider for a list of what you should and should not eat.
Getting plenty of sleep and exercise is also important. While you might not feel up to exercising when you’re having a flare up, physical activity actually increases your energy levels, flexibility, and strength, and helps relieve pain and stiffness. Activities that don’t put much pressure on the joints (like swimming and cycling) are best.
Alternative therapies have helped many young people with arthritis to manage their condition and improve their quality of life. At Spine & Joint Center, we use treatments like regenerative medicine, injection therapy, and medical acupuncture to help reduce joint pain and inflammation without the side effects that some arthritis medications can bring. Find out more about our cutting-edge therapies by contacting us today.