Can You Ever Be Too Young for Arthritis?

Aug 07, 2023

Arthritis is often labeled as a condition that only affects older adults. And while it’s true that nearly 50% of people over age 65 have arthritis, it’s not limited to seniors.

Anyone can have arthritis, no matter their age. In fact, about 7% of people between the ages of 18 and 44 have arthritis — and it’s important to recognize the symptoms because you can never be too young.

Our team at Cascade Orthopaedics specializes in arthritis care, and we’re here to help you understand the warning signs of arthritis. By learning to recognize the symptoms and risk factors, you can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment to start managing your pain.

Juvenile arthritis

About 300,000 children in the United States have juvenile arthritis. It’s characterized by chronic joint inflammation and can develop anytime between the ages of 6 months and 16 years old.

Experts aren’t sure why some children get arthritis, but research indicates that certain genes can increase your risk. Symptoms of juvenile arthritis include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Unfortunately, juvenile arthritis increases your risk of joint pain in adulthood.

Arthritis in adulthood

Even if you didn’t have joint pain as a child, it’s still possible to develop arthritis well before your golden years. There are several types of arthritis that develop in adulthood, primarily:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Gout

These conditions cause joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. If you notice changes in your joints, get checked out. Taking a proactive approach helps you get the evaluation and treatment you need.

Risk factors for arthritis

Most of the time, the causes of arthritis aren’t clear. Osteoarthritis typically develops as joints break down over time, which is why it primarily affects older adults. But several other factors can also increase your risk.

Some types of arthritis are hereditary. That means if you have family members with arthritis, you have a higher risk of getting it, too. Your biological sex also plays a role. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women, and gout is more common in men.

A history of joint injury or trauma, like a fracture or dislocation, can increase your likelihood of developing arthritis. In fact, previous injury is a top cause of arthritis in younger adults.

Finally, your body weight can affect your risk of arthritis. Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on your joints — particularly in your hips and knees — and increases your risk of joint problems.

When to go to the doctor for joint pain

If you experience persistent joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, you should see a doctor — even if you think you’re too young to have arthritis. Other symptoms to watch for are restricted range of motion and joint warmth or redness.

Many types of arthritis are progressive, which means joint damage gets worse over time. Early diagnosis and intervention helps you to manage arthritis effectively and prevent worsening symptoms.

Consider scheduling an arthritis evaluation at Cascade Orthopaedics if:

  • Your joint pain interferes with your daily activities
  • You have joint symptoms that last longer than a few weeks
  • Your joint symptoms are getting worse over time
  • You have symptoms in more than one joint

You could have arthritis, and knowing when to seek medical attention is key to getting an accurate diagnosis and managing your symptoms effectively. Request an appointment online or call one of our offices in Auburn or Bonney Lake, Washington, to get started.