Joint Pain in Young Adulthood: What You Need to Know

Being young comes with many inherent perks. Your skin is soft and supple, you have the energy to get through the day, and your body performs its functions flawlessly. At least, that’s how it should be. 

Unfortunately, even in your prime, diseases, illness, and other health problems can affect you when you least expect it. Your joints are among the most at-risk parts of your body, and they can easily fall victim to painful conditions. 

Our board-certified expert, Dr. Stanley Mathew, specializes in diagnosing and treating joint pain regardless of your age. Here’s everything you need to know about joint pain in young adults and how we can help you feel your age again. 

What causes young adult joint pain?

Your joints, while extremely powerful, are very vulnerable. They’re made up of a complex network of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other structures that work together to help you move and bear weight. 

It’s normal to experience some degree of joint pain if you strain, sprain, fracture, dislocate, or otherwise injure your joint. But that pain usually goes away once you’ve recovered. When your pain persists or is present even when there’s no apparent trigger, it’s likely the result of arthritis. 

Though it’s more common in older adults, it’s possible to develop arthritis as a young adult. Approximately 1-3% of adults and 8 out of every 100,000 adults aged 18-34 have arthritis. Surprisingly, 300,000 children also have arthritis.  

It’s believed that arthritis in young adults occurs as a result of a combination of genetics and environmental factors. For example, if you have a genetic predisposition to arthritis, lifestyle factors like smoking (even second-hand smoke) and poor nutrition can trigger the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.

Arthritis refers to joint disease or damage that causes a variety of symptoms. Pain is one of the main warning signs of arthritis, but it’s important to know the other symptoms as well. Tell Dr. Mathew if you notice any of these symptoms in addition to pain:

Symptoms are typically worse in the morning and late at night, and you may notice them manifest first in your smaller joints, such as your knuckles, toes, and feet. Everyone experiences arthritis differently, and your symptoms can range from mild to debilitating. 

Fortunately, we offer comprehensive treatments to help you manage your arthritis symptoms.

How do you treat arthritis?

Before recommending a treatment plan, Dr. Matthew meets with you to discuss in detail your symptoms, health history, and concerns. We use a variety of imaging and testing methods, including musculoskeletal ultrasound, bone scans, blood tests, X-rays, and electromyograms (EMG) to diagnose the type of arthritis or other joint condition you have and the extent of the damage.

Once we’ve determined the cause of your joint pain, we create a customized treatment plan. Depending on your needs, we may recommend conservative treatments, including physical therapy, yoga, or heat and cold treatments, which may include cryotherapy. 

If your pain is severe and your range of motion significantly limited, we may offer chiropractic care, medication, steroid injections, or electrical stimulation.

We also offer a revolutionary treatment called Hyalgan®, which delivers lubricating fluids directly into your damaged joints to improve your symptoms. This is especially effective if your arthritis is not responding to traditional, conservative treatments. 

If you’d like more information, you can request an appointment online, or call us at either our Dubuque or Cedar Rapids, Iowa locations.

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