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Young with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis sometimes affects young adults and is often the result of a previous joint injury. Around 50% of those who suffer a knee injury develop osteoarthritis 15-20 years after the injury.

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If you are between the ages of 25-35 and have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA), you are definitely not alone. It may be a lot more common for OA to affect adults over the age of 45, but even younger individuals can experience OA symptoms such as joint pain and swelling of the joints. Developing knee OA at a young age is often related to a previous sports injury, most commonly an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or a meniscus tear. This is why the implementation of injury prevention training in sports clubs is so vital already from an early age as certain sports such as football, handball, or basketball increase players’ risk of acute knee injuries. Genes also play a role in the development of OA, and a combination of genes and a previous joint injury further elevates the risk of developing early-onset OA.

Important to continue exercising

Being diagnosed with OA does not necessarily entail that you must stop living an active lifestyle. On the contrary, it is important to continue being physically active to both move the affected joint and maintain good overall physical and mental health. However, asking a physiotherapist for exercise tips that do not overload the joints can be a good idea.

You may need to adjust or change your working position in the workplace, your lifestyle, and/or your exercise routine to protect the affected joint. A physiotherapist or an occupational therapist can also advise on ways to adapt movement in your professional or personal life to decrease excess load on the joints.

Slowing down the progression

OA is a slow and progressive chronic disease which is why it is so important to learn how to live with it. Although there is yet no cure for OA, it is possible to “slow down” the joint disease for it to not progress too quickly. Already at a young age, it can be good to review one’s lifestyle, lose weight (if necessary), exercise regularly, and take injury-preventing knee exercises seriously (if you do sports). By taking care of your body and slowing down the progression of the disease, it is possible to reduce joint pain and maintain joint function for a longer period of time.