While osteoarthritis usually strikes people older than 40, teenagers are not immune to the joint swelling and stiffness common to the disease. Osteoarthritis can impair a teen's ability to play sports, and it may make ordinary activities such as walking painful. If your teen has problems with her joints, a visit with her doctor may shed light on how she can manage her condition.
Though a person's risk for osteoarthritis climbs as her age increases, other factors can also play a role. The overweight and obese are more likely to face osteoarthritis, as are those whose jobs require frequent repetitive motions, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Bone and joint deformities, diabetes and gout may also lead to osteoarthritis, according to MayoClinic.com. Though the reason behind it is unknown, women are more likely than men to have osteoarthritis.
More than 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from osteoarthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The hands, knees, hips and spine are most commonly affected. When it occurs in the hands, osteoarthritis is more likely to be caused by genetics than other factors. Left untreated, osteoarthritis can become so painful that a teenager may be unable to attend school or work, according to MayoClinic.com. About 500 deaths per year are attributed to osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teenagers who have osteoarthritis should contact a doctor about the best treatment options, and if those options are safe for your teen. Exercise and medications are often used in treatment, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A doctor may also recommend switching jobs to give the joints rest, or losing weight may be recommended if your teenager is overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Attempting to treat osteoarthritis on your own can prove dangerous for your teenager. Ongoing monitoring of your teen's condition is necessary to improve his health, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Ask your teen's doctor about support groups available to teenagers who are affected by arthritis, as well as all of your teen's treatment options. In some cases, doctors may perform surgery in an attempt to reduce the pain and disability caused by osteoarthritis.