Age Dropping for Arthritis Onset

Posted by Admin on April 2, 2009

Arthritis, which affects nearly 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, is usually thought of as a disorder afflicting mainly older people. But doctors have been seeing it cropping up in younger and younger people. “We don’t really know why, but we’re seeing an epidemic of patients with wearing out of joints in their 40s and even late 30s,” said Barry Waldman, director of the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Despite this trend, Waldman says, diet and exercise can be effectively used to treat and beat the disease.  

Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joint, and its most common form, osteoarthritis, is characterized by pain, redness and swelling of the knee, knuckle or other joints caused by wearing out of the cartilage. There is no known cause of the condition; people simply contract it.

The best way of dealing with arthritis is exercise. Keeping the cartilage of the joints moving seems to reduce the pain and other symptoms, and make the cartilage healthier. Strengthening the muscles around the joint can be beneficial, too.

There are also medications that help. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the first thing to be tried. If that doesn’t work, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin or Alleve might help. Next on the list would be injectable medicines – anti-inflammatories like cortisone that are introduced into the knee or shoulders. One injectable medication is made of cartilage and is used as a cushioning agent.

However, it’s been found that the popular over-the-counter supplements glucosamine and chondroitin do not help arthritis. The National Institutes of Health recently performed a large study that determined that the two supplements were quite ineffective. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons now discourages taking them. Arthroscopic surgery would be an option only when a chunk of cartilage dislodges inside the joint. In this case, surgery to remove the cartilage is helpful.

 


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