Arthritis isn’t just your grandma’s problem anymore

Arthritis isn’t just your grandma’s problem anymore

It’s that time of year when tree leaves are creating a colorful backdrop against the fall sky. But cooler temps also could mean body aches for millions living with joint pain. That’s due to osteoarthritis and/or other conditions that create inflammation. And the numbers are growing. By 2030, the number of people living with arthritis is expected to jump to 67 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2015, 52 million people reported living with a condition that creates joint pain and lifestyle cramps. But did you know that two-thirds of sufferers are younger than 65 years old, according to the CDC? And even kids can experience significant joint pain.

Dr. Steven Chandler, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, says his patients are experiencing arthritic pain earlier in life, usually as a result of sports injuries. He recently performed a total hip and knee replacement on a 42-year-old woman.

Traditionally, arthritis wasn’t diagnosed until people were in their 70s, Dr. Chandler says. Many had stiff and sore hands and knees earlier in life, but “they just dealt with it,” he says.

Not so much with his younger patients who refuse to be sidelined in their own lives and demand options that will allow them to remain active well into their 50s and 60s.

“The good news is that surgical techniques and newer implant design have improved so we don’t have to wait until patients are senior citizens before surgical intervention,’’ Dr. Chandler explained at a recent medical presentation.

So what can you do if you have joint pain or suspect you have arthritis?

Dr. Chandler suggests these five things:

  • Lose weight. Every one pound of body weight equals three pounds of pressure on your joints. For example, a 150-pound person is placing 450 pounds of pressure on their joints.
  • Swim. “My patients benefit from aquatic therapy or any therapy in the pool. The buoyancy of the water takes the stress off the joints,’’ Dr. Chandler says.
  • Wear a brace or use a cane. “Patients don’t like to look like an old man or woman, but back and knee braces help support joints by redistributing the patient’s body weight to allow them to move more freely without the pain,” Dr. Chandler says. A cane works the same way.
  • Take a supplement. Our bodies naturally produce glucosamine and chondroitin, which help maintain the rubbery tissue (cartilage) that cushions bones at the joints. As we age, the levels of these compounds drop, leading to the gradual breakdown of the joint. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are also available over the counter. “These supplements maintain the cartilage you already have. They don’t replace what you lost,” Dr. Chandler says.
  • Keep warm. The pain you experience as the weather cools is a due to a drop in barometric pressure, which causes joints to expand. An extra layer will help protect your joints and muscles.

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  1. Keeping warm, is NOT the best thing to do, AT ALL! I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis, or as doctors called it, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the little age of 4. I am now 48. I’ve had it for so long, they’ve renamed it. Now it’s call Idiopathic Arthritis, because it’s WAY worse than Rheumatoid or ANY other form of Arthritis out there. Heat, or being too warm, can have an adverse effect on joints, simply because having Arthritis brings on plenty of inflammation as it is, which in turn, creates a ton of heat in the body, and in the affected joints. So, in conclusion, keeping warm, can make matter WAY WORSE.

    • Lisa, I’m sorry to hear about your condition. Dr. Chandler’s tip to use heat to ease join pain was in reference to the more common osteoarthritis.

      Thank you for reading.

      • SORRY Zion, that’s not true. As far as Chandler’s tip to use heat was NOT just for the common Osteo. It is written in the very first paragraph, and I quote: “That’s due to osteoarthritis AND/OR OTHER CONDITIONS that create inflammation.” (Other conditions). EVERY Arthritis causes inflammation. YOU’RE talking to an expert on the subject here. Thank you!

  2. I have had Osteoarthritis for the last 10 years. I was told I was “bone on bone”. Recently I asked about a brace I was told NO due to it contributes to the weakening of the muscles supporting the knee and do daily exercises to strengthen those muscles. (it does not help the pain). I was also told I was to young (55) to have knee replacement because they only last 10-15 years and there would be no other options after it wore out. I do get relief from my hot tub once or twice a week. The heat does help. I guess different types of arthritis need different types of treatment.

  3. Thank you for reading, Connie! You seem very young to have such advanced arthritis.
    Have you sought a second opinion for options to manage your pain?

    • Zion – You want to talk about ADVANCED Arthritis? As I’ve said, I’ve had Arthritis since the age of FOUR (4). Mine, is actually as far advanced as it can possibly get. It’s the worst kind ANYONE can actually have. It’s way past severe. Very crippling. Beyond any help whatsoever. So advanced that ONE of my surgeons included me in a write up story in an Oral Surgeons Newsletter, about the high severity and deformity that it has caused me at such an extremely young age. Doctors are both stumped and amazed when they see me. Yeah, I’m actually a special case, in a lot of ways. I do perplex them. However, I consider myself to be lucky.

  4. Hasn’t there been a study on the use of the supplement you mention for arthritis?
    Didn’t that study show that there was no
    actual benefit for arthritis. That this is
    another in a large group of supplements
    out there that don’t actually work.

  5. Avoid any products containing Splenda! Suffered chronic pain in all joints at age of 55. A nutrionalist asked me about my consumption of products containing this chlorinated manufactured product, Splenda. Within 1-1/2 WEEKS of eliminating it entirely from my diet, the pain disappeared. I am now 60 and have no joint pain whatsoever.

  6. NO!!! 55 is NOT too young to have knee replacement surgery! They (plastic replacements) do NOT wear out that fast at all. I am 48. I had all the toes in BOTH of my feet replaced in 1988, when I was 19. The doctor told me WAY back then, that I would need to have them replaced after about 10 years. Well guess what? It’s been 28 years, and I STILL haven’t had them replaced. It also has a lot to do with how much wear and tear you put on them. The feet carry the weight of your entire body. They get the most use, and wear and tear, out of anything else. So, if I got those done at that YOUNG of an age, 55 is a great age to have knees done. My Uncle who is 67, got both of his knees replaced last year. Simultaneously. He’s ok, BUT, he truly wishes he’d had them done sooner. There’s physical therapy to do afterwards. The older you get, the less you’ll want to go through all of that. Trust me. And the physical therapy post op, is so very important.

  7. Keeping warms definitely helps me! When the seasons change my arthritis is worse! Everyone’s body reacts differently, so just because it does not work for you, does not mean it will not work for someone else! Thanks for the tips Dr. Chandler.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.