World Arthritis Day is observed on 12 October every year with the aim to bring people of all ages, genders and races together in an effort to raise awareness about rheumatoid and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs).
Arthritis is not a single disease but a collection of more than 100 different conditions that affect the joints, tissues around joints and other connective tissues. The conditions are usually associated with joint stiffness, pain and inflammation and are more commonly seen in adults.
However, contrary to what most people believe, arthritis is not just a disease seen in the elderly. Some types of arthritis can affect you at any age, starting from childhood. Fortunately, arthritis can be managed easily with proper treatment and a healthy lifestyle.
On World Arthritis Day, let us have a look at some of the types of arthritis that can affect you at a relatively younger age:
1. Juvenile arthritis: Juvenile arthritis, also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, refers to arthritis that occurs in children between the age of six months and 16 years. There are various types of juvenile arthritis, most of which are either autoimmune or autoinflammatory. They occur when your body's immune system attacks and gradually damages healthy cells in the joints. Symptoms of juvenile arthritis include pain in and swelling at the affected joint. Those with psoriatic arthritis also have skin rashes. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis may manifest as inflammation in the iris (coloured part of the eye) even without joint symptoms.
2. Early-onset osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis occurs due to wear and tear of joints and is more commonly seen in those above the age of 60. However, it can affect people as young as 25 years of age. Obesity, joint injury, overuse of a joint (such as in sports) and a family history of the condition may make you prone to this type of arthritis. Pain in the joint is the most common symptom of this type of arthritis. However since a lot of people have a high tolerance for pain and athletes tend to associate certain pain to their sport, the condition is often diagnosed late. Stiffness in the affected joint, especially in the morning, and crackling or grating of joints are some other symptoms of osteoarthritis.
3. Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can affect you at any age, though the risk of it increases with age. The disease begins slowly and the symptoms progress over weeks and months. Stiffness in one or more joints is the first symptom of the condition. RA mostly affects the joints of the hand and legs though it can also affect shoulder and elbow joints. Fatigue, weakness, fever and weight loss are some other symptoms of RA.
4. Infectious arthritis: Infectious arthritis, also called septic arthritis, occurs when an infection in a part of your body spreads to one or more of your joints or the fluid surrounding them, leading to joint pain and stiffness, fever and chills. It occurs more commonly in children than in adults. Bacterial infections, especially those caused by Staphylococcus aureus, are usually the underlying cause of infectious arthritis, although the condition may also occur due to a fungal or viral infection. Joints of hips, knees, wrists and ankles are most commonly affected by this type of arthritis. Infectious arthritis is treated with antibiotics and joint drainage.
For more information, read our article on Arthritis.
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