Osteoarthritis is not just a disease reserved for the elderly. However, if it is identified early, it can also be better managed. Here are the signs that can suggest osteoarthritis even if you are “only” 40 years old!
Osteoarthritis progresses with age, but can start early!
Thinking that osteoarthritis, the most common joint disease today, is an “old people’s” disease is a mistake. The release of a book, “Osteoarthritis at 40, how to avoid it, how to treat it” by Dr Odile Picard-Paix, general practitioner and oligotherapist, would like to remind us of this. According to the expert, 50 years ago, osteoarthritis was actually classified as a disease of aging. “but this definition has been repositioned taking into account the fact that it can also affect young people.”
An observation confirmed to us by Dr. Laurent Grange, rheumatologist and member of our expert committee.. “Osteoarthritis is “related” to age, since it progresses with age and 80% of 80-year-olds are affected. But what we know today from a 2022 Stop Osteoarthritis survey is that 35% of respondents reported pain even before the age of 40. And that 5 million work stoppages over 10 years among working people are linked to osteoarthritis. It’s far from being a nursing home illness!”
SAccording to the doctor, the first signs of spinal osteoarthritis could even appear at the age of 15. A rare event, but possible.
What are the signs that suggest osteoarthritis at age 40?
Certain signs that you think are harmless can put you on the path to developing osteoarthritis. Signs that should not be ignored if you want to avoid pain and take care of yourself.
For the doctor, these include:
- Mechanical pain. “These occur when we put stress on the joints, when we walk for a while, but fade when we put our joints to rest”;
- Stiffness felt in the morning and a “softening” of the joints for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. (As opposed to rust removal which lasts more than an hour and suggests inflammatory rheumatism);
- A functional discomfort felt to movemoving around, or digital osteoarthritis in the fingers when fine movements become more difficult;
- Mobilization noises and cracking joints.
The last two signs would suggest advanced osteoarthritis. “But an advanced stage is entirely possible in people aged 40”, evokes our expert. In fact, 60% of osteoarthritis is linked to a genetic risk factor, while 30 to 40% relate to what we do with our lives: overuse of joints, excess weight, or even trauma close to osteoarthritis. a joint can speed up the process.
What to do if you are affected?
Osteoarthritis is a disease which, to date, has no curative treatment. The deterioration of the cartilage cannot be stopped. However, many symptomatic treatments can allow you to maintain a satisfactory quality of life and movement.
Hence the interest in consulting a professional in the event of discomfort or joint pain, even if you are still young for this. For Dr Grange, the recommendations of the French Society of Rheumatology are essentially the same, whatever the age, from 20 to 80 years old.
- Maintaining physical activity, despite pain, is the first recommendation to improve symptoms. 6,000 steps per day are therefore recommended;
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Using possible devices can help movement: knee orthoses, absorbent insoles;
- Acupuncture shows effectiveness in knee osteoarthritis;
- TENS (low frequency current) type devices are now reimbursed by social security;
- A diet rich in omega 3 would also benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can help with pain. Level 2 analgesics (codeine, etc.) can be prescribed by your doctor, taking all necessary precautions against addiction.
- Anti-inflammatory topicals, creams and dressings have also shown effectiveness in various studies;
- Topicals based on pepper (capsaicin) have a recognized analgesic effect;
- Hyaluronic acid injections are not reimbursed but work well in younger people;
- Symptomatic slow-acting anti-arthritic drugs (AASAL), considered as food supplements, can help improve symptoms;
“But more than all these solutions, what still works best against these symptoms, in all studies, remains physical activity” concludes our rheumatologist. At 40, there is still time to move.