Arthritis was once considered an affliction for the older generation. Research now shows that more people in the younger generations are suffering from the disease than previously thought. It is estimated that 30% of men under the age of 65 now experience joint pain while 31% of women under 65 suffer the same ailment. What happened?
Obesity Contributes to Joint Problems
With obesity on the rise in America, we’re also seeing a rise in osteoarthritis in younger people because the extra weight they’re carrying on their bodies is breaking down the cartilage in their joints prematurely. It becomes a terrible cycle where obesity causes joint pain, which makes it more difficult to engage in physical activity to lose or maintain weight, which in turn makes obesity more of an issue. Obese osteoarthritis patients can find some relief from symptoms if they are able to lose weight. We can help them by encouraging them to talk to their doctors about gentle exercises that aren’t too hard on their bodies, possibly even under the guidance of a physical therapist.
Gym Enthusiasts Can Get Arthritis Too
On the other hand, physically fit people who tend to overexert themselves while working out can fall prey to arthritis. Younger fitness enthusiasts don’t generally have this problem, but those who are approaching or in the midst of “middle age” can find that they are putting too much stress on their joints from the same types of vigorous exercise they did without problems a few years ago. The knees are especially vulnerable to osteoarthritis from the wear and tear of sports and intense workouts. They may benefit from such things as support braces and taking longer rest periods between workouts.
What Can We Do?
As pharmacists, we should be taking note of a few changes in our patients’ habits or needs. Specifically, if they are gaining weight and are taking lots of pain relievers. Many people don’t get the diagnosis quick enough and a suggestion to speak with their doctor about joint pain is the first step to catching it early and delaying the effects sooner. Of course, anyone who has been losing weight and is on arthritic medicines should be commended for their efforts to take control of their health. A smile and a “congratulations” are always best to reinforce their positive attitudes. In order to reach more people, setting up an information table regarding arthritis is a great method to educating the masses. Having someone on hand to talk about younger folks suffering the affliction can help someone get to a doctor sooner and keeping an eye on the body. Dieticians can also be informative to the public on how to eat to avoid arthritis and to cope with symptoms.