Yes, young adults — those in their 30’s and even 20’s—have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, even though this degenerative cartilage disease is strongly associated with the aging body.

Young Adults, Even Kids, Not Immune to Osteoarthritis

“Osteoarthritis is caused when there is deterioration in cartilage at the end of the bones,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.

“This is most common in joints such as the knees, hips and spines,” continues Dr. Anderson, who is board certified in internal medicine.

“While it is common in older people, it can also affect children and young adults.”

Causes of Osteoarthritis in Young Adults and Children

Dr. Anderson explains, “The most common cause of osteoarthritis in young adults is overuse or abuse to joints at a young age.

“This is often seen in young adults who have played sports for years.

“If a young adult has a history of a torn meniscus in the knee or a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder, they are more likely to develop osteoarthritis in that joint.”

Young Non-Athletes with Joint Problems

“It’s not only the athletes who are at risk,” continues Dr. Anderson. “Many young adults are prone to osteoarthritis simply because of their genetic predisposition.

“If osteoarthritis is common in parents or grandparents, they are more likely to develop it themselves.

“Since excessive weight can lead to stress on the joints, maintaining a fit and lean body will help deter osteoarthritis, especially in young adults with a predisposition.”

Osteoarthritis prevention is yet one more reason among the litany of reasons why overweight is so bad for the body – even in young adults and children.

A person of 20-something age who is clinically obese but who feels no joint pain is getting by on their youth.

Even if their parents and grandparents were thin and had osteoarthritis anyways, this is NO way absolves obesity as an added risk factor!

As time marches on, obesity will become increasingly likely as a cause or contributor to painful joints.

Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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