Arthritis at Any Age

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I’m young. Why should I worry about arthritis?

James Rippe, MD
Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis are the leading cause of missed work days and disability in the United States. By the time you are 60, you have a 20 percent chance of having arthritis. And a lot of people, particularly in their 20s and 30s don’t realize that there are lots of things that you can do to lower your risk of ever developing arthritis. People tend to view their bones and joints as passive. They don’t realize that there are things that you can do to protect them. And one of the things that is very important is to maintain a proper body weight. Overweight and obesity is the leading cause of osteoarthritis in women in the United States. Prior sports injury is the leading cause in men. So, if you get injured, go to your doctor. There are lots of techniques we can use in sports medicine we can use now to prevent that acute injury from becoming a chronic injury. And then the third thing that I always recommend to my patients is have a regular program of flexibility and stretching. You can get some help from a YMCA or a health club. Or there’s some very good books on stretching that you can get on the Internet. But we always tell people engage in some flexibility and stretching exercises both before and after you exercise, and that will also give your body a little bit of warm up and cool down for three to five minutes. And it’s a very important part of your exercise program, and also very important in terms of lowering your risk of joint injuries, which can lead to arthritis.