The most common thing that people imagine when they hear the word “arthritis” is an older person with aching hands. While that’s certainly a way the disease can manifest, it’s only one of many.
The experts at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates treat patients who have various forms of arthritis. You may be surprised to learn that numerous arthritis patients are younger than 50 years old.
Arthritis is an umbrella term
Arthritis is a very broad term that actually refers to more than 100 types of joint disorders. You don’t just have “arthritis,” you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, or some other specific joint disorder.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative arthritis, in which the cartilage in your joints begins to break down. It mostly affects older adults, which is the reason for that common misconception regarding who gets arthritis.
Arthritis can be caused by wear and tear on your joints, inflammation, a disorder with your immune system, or even by certain types of infections. Many forms of the disease can occur at any age.
Cause for concern
Since arthritis can take so many different forms, the symptoms may vary. In general, arthritis is associated with joint pain.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, common arthritis symptoms include:
- Warmth or redness
- Swelling around your joints that lasts more than 3 days
- Swelling that happens more than 3 times each month
- Problems moving a joint
The symptoms you experience, along with which joints are affected, can help your doctor narrow your diagnosis. Tracking your symptoms and noting which joints hurt or are swollen, stiff, or warm, along with how long the symptoms last and what brings relief, can help your doctor understand what’s happening.
Common types of arthritis in people younger than 50
There are several different forms of arthritis that affect younger adults. Here are a few of them.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
RA is an immune disorder, and when you have it, your immune system attacks your joints. It typically affects women more often than men, and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
You may have RA but not have any symptoms until you’re older. Having a family history of RA raises your risk considerably, and researchers believe environmental factors, hormones, and lifestyle choices may also impact your risk.
Gout causes sudden and severe symptoms, often beginning in your big toe. It can also affect your ankle, knee, or foot. Men are more likely than women to develop gout, and usually after the age of 40.
A buildup of uric acid causes gout. By drinking more water, avoiding alcohol, and eating a healthy diet, you may be able to reduce your risk of attacks.
Like RA, lupus is an autoimmune disease. In addition to attacking your joints, lupus can damage connective tissues, your skin, lungs, heart, brain, and other organs. It can also include symptoms in addition to joint pain, such as chest pain, fatigue, fever, and a general sense of uneasiness, among others. Lupus is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 44.
If you have joint pain, but you're younger than 50 years old, don’t rule out arthritis. Instead, book an appointment at Louis Keppler & Associates and let our experts help you understand what’s happening. You can schedule an appointment by calling 234-430-0079.