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Arthritis: Not Just a Disease of Old Age

written by Debra Blaine, MD - Jun 10, 2024

Photo Credit: by JIUN-JE LIN,
Photo Credit: by JIUN-JE LIN,

The incidence of arthritis in our society is increasing for several reasons:

• Obesity

• Our sedentary lifestyle

• An aging population

Why do these factors matter? Arthritis is a disease of the joints, and we rely on our joints for flexibility. For almost everything we do, we need our fingers, limbs, and spine to respond to us and move when and where we tell them to, whether hiking in the mountains, driving a car, or changing a lightbulb.

Arthritis affects over 21% of the population, and the tendency increases with age. It is a leading cause of disability because it causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. This results in loss of agility, inability to perform specific tasks, and decreased quality of life.

It can prevent us from keeping up with our kids’ activities, caring for the house, and being productive employees. When severe, it might even force us to change jobs or limit our work hours and the income we generate.

While we used to associate this sickness with our grandparents, it’s fast becoming a limitation for people in their 50s, 40s, and even 30s.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. Joints are the pivot points that allow us to flex, extend, and rotate our bodies. These junctions are enclosed in a capsule that contains bone, connective tissue, and fluid.

Without them, we would not be able to move, and we’d be rooted in place like the trees.

The most commonly affected joints are:

• Knees

• Hips

• Fingers

• Back

• Neck

When our brain tells us to do something, our bones should slide smoothly over each other inside the joint capsule without slipping out of alignment. This is possible because the ends of each bone are lined with a solid, slick substance called cartilage and are bathed in a lubricant called synovial fluid. Together, they reduce friction, so there’s no resistance when we reach for a pencil or toss a basketball.

However, with arthritis, the tissue inside the capsule becomes inflamed, and the cartilage breaks down. Injuries can also precipitate this process.

Our bodies always try to regenerate damaged tissue and may react by creating extra bones called spurs. The sharp edges of this new bone cause irritation, drawing more fluid into the capsule. This swelling further interrupts our smooth, easy movements.

There are many different forms of arthritis, and a few are listed below. The most common is osteoarthritis. They all produce joint pain but are not always treated the same way, so talk to your physician about which type ails you and how best to treat it.

• Osteoarthritis

• Rheumatoid

• Psoriatic

• Gout

• Juvenile

• Fibromyalgia

• Infectious Arthritis (includes Lyme arthritis)

Arthritis Triggers

As stated above, the incidence of arthritis in our society is increasing as our culture grapples with:

• Corpulence

• An inactive lifestyle

• Living longer

The prevalence of obesity in Western culture is rising steadily. This is due to:

• Diets high in carbohydrates, sugars, and fats

• Rushed meals that rely on “fast food”

• Increased sedentary habits

When our weight increases, our hips and knees carry a greater burden and are more prone to chronic joint injuries, such as arthritis.

Most of us are not as active and don’t burn as many calories as our great-grandparents. We spend more time working, sitting at desks, and leisurely using social media or watching television. We just don’t use as much energy.

In addition to adding to our weight, this lack of movement contributes to the progression of arthritis. Our muscles are less toned and, therefore, less able to stabilize our joints to prevent injury and inflammation.


Common symptoms include:

• Swollen joints

• Pain

• Limited movement

• Redness

• Prone to injury

Swollen and painful joints often plague people living with arthritis. They feel stiff, which makes it hard to move about. They can become more accident-prone if they lose their balance and can’t correct their posture quickly enough.

Inflammation in their hands can make it challenging to perform delicate motor tasks like writing, grasping, or repairing machinery. Some activities they used to love, like gardening or woodworking, may have to be abandoned.

Arthritis in our pets

Our pets can also get joint disease. They don’t speak our language, but we may notice if they’re taking the stairs more slowly, limping, or no longer interested in playing fetch. Sometimes, our little critter companions can get irritable from the pain—just like we do. If little Moxxie hasn’t been acting herself lately, don’t assume she’s just “getting older.” Take her in for a checkup.

And NEVER give your dog or cat over-the-counter pain medicines. These are toxic to your fur baby and can cause more harm than good. Please bring your pet to their veterinarian for a complete evaluation, and your vet will prescribe an appropriate medicine.

CanadaPharmacyOnline also carries canine medications. You will need a prescription from your vet. Due to their size, cats are treated with much smaller doses and sometimes different formulas. So, don’t give your dog’s medicine to your cat.


Any time you or your loved one has pain, consult your doctor first. If the diagnosis is arthritis and your symptoms are mild, they may suggest OTC products, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but always ask beforehand.

Many NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are available without a prescription and are frequently used as first-line treatment for pain. Still, they may be contraindicated with some health conditions. These include, but are not limited to, cardiac disease, kidney or liver compromise, and stomach sensitivity or ulcers. So, discussing your health history with your physician before taking anything is essential.

Some medications your doctor may prescribe:

Naprelan (Naproxen)


Celebrex (Celecoxib)

Arthrotec (Diclofenac/Misoprostol)

What you can do to stay healthy

While there is no cure for arthritis, you can slow its progression with a few simple actions:

1. Move more.

2. Engage in moderate, age-appropriate exercise.

3. Avoid sitting for long periods.

4. Drop a few pounds if you’re overweight. The less mass your joints have to support, the less swollen and painful they’ll be.

5. Your doctor may also prescribe physical and occupational therapy to strengthen muscles and stabilize painful joints.

Ask your physician what activity program is best for you.



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