Is It Only Older People Who Develop Arthritis?

When you think of the painful, swollen and stiff joints associated with arthritis, you probably only think over people in older age.

Although arthritis is commonly referred to as a single disease, it's really an umbrella term for a complex family of more than 100 musculoskeletal diseases that can attack and destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. You can even develop some of these conditions in early adulthood and even childhood!

Almost one third of Australians have some form of arthritis or other musculoskeletal condition, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis affecting the most people.

Osteoarthritis is the type that springs to mind when many of us think of arthritis, and is more common in adults and rises with age, particularly after the age of 45. But despite the common perception that this is an older person's disease, two thirds of people who have Osteoarthritis are of working age.

Rheumatoid arthritis however, usually onsets is between 30 and 65 years. This hindering condition, where the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and damage to the surrounding cartilage and bone, is more prevalent in women and tends to run in families.

Children and arthritis

Not only does arthritis affect younger adults, it can also see young children crippled with pain, swollen joints and stiffness that we tend to associate with old age.

As many as 1 in 1000 children have juvenile arthritis, a condition that is as common as juvenile diabetes, the more known of the two.

Juvenile or childhood arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells, tissues and even organs. This form of arthritis occurs in children under 16 years of age and can cause significant pain, disability and restrictions in school and other activities.

Early identification makes a world of difference

One of the most important things in childhood arthritis is to catch the disease at the earliest opportunity. It is important to have early identification and appropriate treatment early on in the course of the disease because these children may have arthritis for a long time

Up to half of patients with juvenile arthritis will end up in an adult clinic, although these patients tend to have more severe disease as a child.

Although arthritis can go into long-term remission, a cure hasn't been found yet. So looking after growing joints and bones is very important. 

If you or someone you know has been experiencing joint pain for even arthritis, make sure to book an appointment with your GP and pop into Medwest to visit one of our outstanding Physiotherapists or Myotherapists.