Arthritis isn’t just an affliction for the elderly — it’s far more common among younger people than previously believed.
A study published this week found that nearly one-third of the more than 90 million people with arthritis in 2015 were under the age of 65. Those estimates are nearly 70 percent higher than previously reported, according to Dr. David Felson, a professor of medicine at Boston University.
“Arthritis is incredibly common, and we have underestimated how common it is,” Felson said in story posted on the National Institutes of Health web site.
Research found that nearly 30 percent of men and more than 31 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 had arthritis. Of those 65 or older, nearly 56 percent of men and 69 percent of women had arthritis.
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Old figures have been flawed because previous research relied on a doctor’s diagnosis, Felson said. But younger patients don’t expect to have arthritis, so they answer ‘no’ on questionnaires.
Obesity and stress on joints from vigorous exercise and sports are likely causes of arthritis among younger men and women. Doctors often miss arthritis in younger patients because they don’t expect to see it, Felson noted.
Keeping weight down and exercising safely are the best ways to help prevent arthritis, he suggested.