Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. It can present itself in many different ways, and teenagers experience it differently than adults. The key to understanding and dealing with teen-specific symptoms is recognizing them when they occur.
Teenagers are often unaware that their pain signals are being misinterpreted as a sign of an underlying condition. If you have adolescent arthritis, you may experience the following common teen symptoms: Acute pain or stiffness in one joint that begins shortly or flares up immediately after a particular event or activity; for example, you put on new shoes and your knees hurt for the rest of the day.
Teenage arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that usually strikes during the teen years. It’s common among teens and poses a particular challenge for them. Teenagers by nature are more active than adults.
They tend to spend hours outdoors, participate in high-impact sports such as ice hockey and lacrosse, play team sports like soccer, field hockey and basketball and engage in other similar activities several times a week.
These activities place extra stress on the teenaged joints – knees, ankles, hips and shoulders – which contribute to the onset of arthritic symptoms even earlier than they normally would.
What are the causes of teenage arthritis?
In most cases of teen arthritis, the cause is unknown. In a small number of cases, however, the condition may be caused by an underlying condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Certain infections may also cause arthritis.
In rare cases, complications of delayed puberty or hormone imbalances may contribute to the onset of arthritis. We don’t completely understand the causes of teenage arthritis. Teenage arthritis is not caused by poor hygiene or an unhealthy lifestyle. Increased physical activity and stress on the joints of teens increase the risk of developing arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis among teens. It’s a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the synovial membrane that covers the joints.
This causes inflammation and swelling in the joints, causing pain and loss of function. While rheumatoid arthritis affects people of all ages, it’s most common among those who are between 15 and 35 years old.
Risk factors include certain ethnic backgrounds and certain genetic disorders. Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose because it often mimics other conditions. A thorough evaluation by your doctor is crucial to making a definitive diagnosis.
Psoriatic arthritis is a rare but serious form of inflammatory arthritis that usually occurs in people with a skin condition called psoriasis. In psoriatic arthritis, the inflamed skin cells of the psoriasis superficial PSc pathogen that causes psoriasis colonize the joints.
As these enlarged, painful and swollen joints become more severe, the infection may spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood, either in the early years of life or after the age of 20. The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, but it occurs more often in people who have a specific genetic marker in their blood.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis among adults. It’s also the most common type of arthritis among teens, occurring in about 30% of teens with arthritis. The causes of osteoarthritis are often unknown, and it occurs more often in people who have a family history of the condition.
Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear arthritis that develops when the cartilage that cushions and glides joints wears down. It often starts as osteoarthritic spondylolysis, which is an inflammation of a section of the spine. As the disease progresses, pain and swelling occur in the hands, wrists and knees.
Other forms of arthritis in teens
Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are the most common forms of autoimmune arthritis. In rare cases, other forms of arthritis may occur in teens, such as an immune-mediated form of arthritis that occurs in people who have HIV or another immune deficiency.
A type of osteoarthritis sometimes affects teens. Called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it’s a rare condition in which the cause is unknown. It can cause persistent and severe joint pain in teens. Another form of osteoarthritis that affects teens is psoriatic arthritis, which is a rare form of arthritis that usually occurs in people with psoriasis.
Signs and symptoms of teenage arthritis
The most common signs and symptoms of teenage arthritis include pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Pain is often felt around the joints and the spine, especially in the morning after getting out of bed.
Swelling and stiffness are often worse while standing or walking. Sometimes, however, teens with arthritis experience no symptoms or only mild symptoms. This can pose a particular challenge for teens, who may want to continue with their usual activities but may be limited by arthritis.
Teenagers with arthritis may also experience fatigue, depression and changes in appetite. Teenagers with arthritis may feel that they’re not able to do the things they used to, and they may be more likely to feel lonely and isolated.
Treatments for teenage arthritis
The best treatment for arthritis is to get rid of the underlying cause. Smoking and getting regular exercise are important for reducing the risk of developing arthritis.
Trigger-point therapy is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis that involves applying pressure to the painful trigger points in the affected joint to release the pressure on the surrounding nerves. It can be done as an outpatient procedure and is often effective at alleviating pain in joints that have been sore for a long time.
Teenage arthritis is a common condition that may affect any teen who is physically active. It’s most common among joints that are especially active during sports, such as knees, ankles and hips.
Teenagers who have arthritis may be able to reduce the impact of their arthritis by switching to an easier sport, resting their joints when needed and wearing supportive shoes when appropriate. There’s no cure for arthritis, but it can be managed with proper treatment.