Written by Mr Fahad Attar for Doctify

Arthritis is a condition that is often associated with age, however this is not always the case. Arthritis can also affect younger people, especially if they have sustained an injury.

Here to tell us more is Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Fahad Attar.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a common condition and it means inflammation of joints. There are many causes of arthritis and it may affect one joint or many joints. Two common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where a trigger causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues.

The other common type is osteoarthritis which can affect both young and older people alike due to either usual wear and tear of the joints or it can be secondary due to injury or trauma of the joints. Osteoarthritis especially of the knee joint is on the rise and we are seeing a rise in osteoarthritis in the younger population as well because of a higher incidence of joint injuries.

Can young people suffer from it?

Yes, it can affect young people as well, especially secondary osteoarthritis. For example, following a knee joint injury, there can be cartilage damage, ligament damage and meniscal damage and all of these predispose to getting secondary arthritis in the knee joint at a young age and this is what makes the management challenging.

What are the most common causes of arthritis in young people?

As more young people injure their joints, the most common cause of arthritis in the younger population is secondary osteoarthritis. The treatment and management options is difficult in this age group as it is paramount to improve pain and function and at the same time delay any joint replacement procedures. Joint preservation is the mainstay of treatment for this reason.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options can be challenging especially when we are dealing with young adult arthritis management. We always try to match up patient expectation with joint preservation and improved joint function.

Routinely for end stage arthritis, when conservative measures have failed, the treatment is joint replacement surgery but in younger patients with arthritis, joint preservation surgery is a better option to prolong native joint life and to delay joint replacement procedures.

So for these young people with early arthritis, innovative evidence based treatment options such as PRP injections and visco-supplementation injections are good treatment options and for young people with moderate to severe arthritis. In knees, other joint preservation surgical options include hight tibial osteotomies, distal femoral osteotomies, joint resurfacing procedures and partial knee replacement procedures.

All these modalities improve improve pain and function and prolong native joint life.

Are there preventative measures people can take to avoid it?

  • Injury prevention is mainstay so wearing protective gear while playing sports is helpful and warming up and down before and after match play etc.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight as overweight and obese individuals are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis and weight loss in these individuals has shown to improve pain and function.
  • Developing diabetes is a risk factor as well so maintaining your blood sugar levels and effectively managing your diabetes reduces the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Keeping the joints healthy with regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 


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