Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million Americans diagnosed according to the CDC. This will only intensify as the population ages; it is estimated that by 2030, 20 percent of Americans will be over 65, which means they’ll be at a higher risk for osteoarthritis.
Even if you’re not closing in on retirement, though, it’s important to know the truth about this prevalent degenerative joint disease. Here are five key facts to get you started.
1. Age is not the sole risk factor for osteoarthritis
While osteoarthritis primarily affects seniors, age is not the only risk factor. Obesity, muscle weakness, genetics, injury, overuse of a joint and more can increase your likelihood of developing the disease, regardless of age.
2. Symptoms may be different for younger people
Unlike the blanket pain symptom that accompanies most osteoarthritis diagnoses, younger people may have different symptoms than seniors. Osteoarthritis in younger individuals tends to manifest in mechanical movement of joints, such as grinding or popping, or in a joint injury.
3. You can take preventive steps
Just because osteoarthritis has occurred in your family, does not mean you are doomed to the same fate. There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk for osteoarthritis, such as losing weight, which lessens the pressure of excess weight on your joints. Every one-pound increase in weight adds the force of 2-3 pounds to your knee joints — something that can be reduced through healthy lifestyle choices.
4. You should be active even after diagnosis
If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, this doesn’t mean you should stop being active altogether. In fact, regular physical activity will help improve your range of motion, maintain a healthy weight and maintain joint function. The key is to keep the exercises or activities at a low-impact level.
5. Ignoring symptoms can actually make the pain worse
If you’re experiencing osteoarthritis symptoms, don’t wait to consult a doctor. Putting off an appointment will only prolong your suffering. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, surgery or other treatments. Whatever their recommendation, seeing a doctor about your joint pain is always the first step toward less pain, increased mobility and a better quality of life.
For osteoarthritis diagnosis and care in South Carolina, consider visiting the experts at Carolina Orthopedics.
Carolina Orthopedics provides high quality orthopedic services and care to the Aiken and CSRA communities. Carolina Orthopedics offers accessible, affordable orthopedic care to provide diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation services, including sports medicine, reconstructive surgery and total joint replacement. They accept all insurance programs.