Osteoarthritis in younger and older people – what are the differences?
Osteoarthritis is a disease which affects approximately one in four people over the age of 45. Although the disease is more common in older people, it can also affect young people. However, there may be a difference in the development of osteoarthritis and its impact on someone’s life depending on the age of the person affected. Regardless of your age, it is still a good idea to seek medical care if you start to experience symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Causes of osteoarthritis
Many factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, but essentially it is caused by excessive strain on the joints. This can be a result of the physical construction of the joint, being overweight, lack of activity or previous joint damage. Repetitive work movements and negative workload also come into play. In young people it is more common for the disease to develop as a result of damage, but in older people it is usually a result of repeated strain.
Essentially, osteoarthritis is a combination of physical changes and symptoms. Physical changes in the joint can take place a long time before the symptoms occur and vice versa. This is why an X-ray is no longer considered to be so useful to reach a diagnosis. The symptoms of the person affected should simply be used as the basis for assessing whether that person requires care or not.
Treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but it is possible to alleviate the symptoms. With the right treatment, most people can reduce or completely eliminate their symptoms – which is the important thing. This will offer particular comfort to young people who will have to live with the disease for a long time.
In principle, the disease is treated the same way irrespective of whether the sufferer is young or old. The basic treatment consists of customized, long-term training – ideally in consultation with a physiotherapist. The chosen exercises should be performed regularly, ideally every day. (These do not need to be long, sweaty workouts at the gym, it is enough to do a few simple exercises at home without equipment). In addition to this, we recommend an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits.
If you are overweight, it is particularly important to build up muscle strength. In fact, stronger muscles can carry more weight, which means that your joints do not have to take so much strain. An active lifestyle and healthy eating habits are the keys to achieve this too.
Including training into your everyday life
Since regular training is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis, routines are important. You should carry out specifically designed exercises every day, which means that it is important to make time for them. You don’t need any more than a few minutes each day, so most people can manage this even those who are still of working age when they are affected.
In addition to these exercises, other physical activity is important. This can be anything from everyday exercise or taking the dog for a walk up to training at a gym. What you do will depend on what you can manage. For example, a personal trainer can help you work out a program. It is important to try to develop a more active lifestyle instead of increasing inactivity.