Is Arthritis Inevitable as People Age?

Is Arthritis Inevitable as People Age?

Arthritis and age seem to go hand in hand, but this pairing isn’t a foregone conclusion. Here’s a look at why age is such a big risk factor for arthritis and steps you can take to offset this risk.

Age seems to bring about a host of unwelcome changes, and it’s a good bet that joint pain and inflammation top many lists. 

Of the more than 92 million Americans who have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or arthritis-like symptoms, it’s safe to say that a majority falls into older age groups. That said, while the connection between age and arthritis is certainly close, it’s not necessarily inevitable.

To shed some light, Dr. Rajiv Sood and the team here at Spine & Orthopedic Center want to focus on age as a risk factor for arthritis in this month’s blog post. 

Arthritis isn’t one disease

Our first point of clarification is that arthritis is a catchall term for more than 100 different diseases that lead to the same two symptoms: joint pain and joint inflammation.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which affects about 32.5 million adults in the United States.

Other forms of arthritis include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

As we mentioned, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, so we’re only going to give you a sample here.

Age and arthritis

Age and arthritis share a very close connection with OA, which is also called a wear-and-tear joint disease.  OA is progressive and occurs when the protective cartilage inside your joints breaks down and your bones grind against each other.

So, when we cite a statistic like more than half of adults over the age of 65 in the US have arthritis, it’s likely that OA is fueling most of these numbers.

Experts predict that overall arthritis numbers are going to rise in the coming decades thanks to an aging population, which again makes the age connection.

We should also point out that, with many types of arthritis, the symptoms can worsen with age as your joints become more damaged over time, which is certainly the case with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis is not a given

While we’ve painted a fairly ominous picture of the relationship between age and arthritis, we want to underscore the point that it isn’t an inevitable outcome. 

If you take steps now, you can prevent joint issues and OA when you're older. These steps might include:

  • Exercising — your joints are meant to move
  • Building muscle around your joints
  • Shed excess pounds to relieve the pressure on your joints

Another great step is to come see us immediately if you’re injured or feeling pain in your joints. With early intervention, we might be able to halt, or at least slow, the progression of future joint issues.

To learn more about arthritis and preventing joint pain and inflammation down the road, please contact our office in Jonesboro, Georgia, to schedule a consultation.