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Is Arthritis Just Inevitable As I Age?

Is Arthritis Just Inevitable As I Age?

Nearly half of folks over the age of 65 have arthritis, so it’s easy to assume that arthritis is age-related — and in some cases that’s true. But just because aging contributes to the development of some types of arthritis doesn’t mean it’s the only factor, and it doesn’t mean that it’s inevitable as you age. 

Dr. Naima Cheema and our team here at Nexclin Medicine see arthritis in patients of all ages. The word arthritis is merely an umbrella term that encompasses more than 100 different types of inflammatory joint conditions. Some are more common than others, and some are directly related to age, but none of them are inevitable simply because you’re getting older.

As a triple-board certified physician, two of Dr. Cheema’s areas of expertise include holistic family medicine and anti-aging medicine — a valuable combination when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis. Here, she takes a closer look at arthritis and its relationship to the aging process. 

Age and arthritis — What’s the connection?

While arthritis isn’t inevitable, aging is. There’s no getting around the fact that your body undergoes significant changes as the years roll by, and that includes bone loss, less flexible ligaments and muscles, and cartilage degradation. 

These changes show up most noticeably in your joints. The protective cartilage that covers the ends of your bones within a joint loses its water content over the years. It becomes thinner and more susceptible to the wear-and-tear of daily use. As it breaks down, your joints become inflamed and painful — and voilà, you have osteoarthritis.

However, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, many of these changes stem from disuse rather than advanced age. This suggests that more activity — 30 minutes of moderate activity a day — can stave off the onset of osteoarthritis and help you avoid some other health issues, such as hypertension and heart disease.

Can young people get arthritis?

Yes, some types of arthritis affect young people, including infants. Systemic lupus erythematosus can develop in babies, children, teens, and adults alike. 

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), formerly called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, strikes from birth to age 16. JIA is an autoimmune disease that prompts your body to release chemicals to fight off a perceived invader. In JIA, the immune system gets confused and attacks the lining in the joints, causing inflammation and pain. 

Arthritis plays no favorites and affects the young and old alike. In fact, most people who have arthritis are younger than 65 years old

How to prevent arthritis

Rather than focusing on age and arthritis, Dr. Cheema encourages you to manage the top five controllable factors that contribute to the development of arthritis so you can prevent it. 

1. Exercise

Physical activity keeps arthritis at bay by keeping your joints flexible and lubricated. It also strengthens your joints’ support system — your muscles and bones. 

2. Diet

Everything you eat has the potential to help or harm your health. And certain foods can even lower your risk of developing arthritis. One study showed that consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which you can get from nuts, plant oils, cold water fish, and eggs, can prevent the development of rheumatoid arthritis in women. 

If you already have arthritis, your diet can help you ease the symptoms. Here are some foods to include in your arthritis arsenal:

Talk to Dr. Cheema about a healthy arthritis-preventing diet that can support your health and keep your joints working smoothly.

3. Weight

The more you weigh, the more stress you put on your joints, and that can lead to arthritis. Keeping your weight at a healthy level may help you avoid the development of arthritis. 

In addition to joint stress, fat cells also contribute to overall inflammation throughout your body, which deteriorates your joint tissues, and leads to arthritis.

4. Smoking

Smoking puts you at an increased risk for arthritis, so if you smoke, quit. Your joints will thank you, as will your heart and lungs.

5. Blood sugar

More than 50% of people with diabetes, which interferes with your insulin and blood sugar levels, also have arthritis. That’s because diabetes causes widespread inflammation and damages your cartilage. Controlling your blood sugar can help you prevent arthritis.

How we treat arthritis

There’s no cure yet for arthritis, but Dr. Cheema offers the most advanced, evidence-based treatments to help you manage your symptoms. You may benefit from pain-relieving steroid injections, lubricating hyaluronic acid injections, or tissue-healing platelet-rich plasma injections.

To find out which cutting-edge treatment is right for you, call or click to book an appointment at any of our three Georgia locations, in Roswell, Alpharetta, and Milton. 

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