Dear Ask The Doctor: Is it normal for a person to get osteoarthritis in the hips, knees, shoulder,elbow, hand, ankles, back and neck at an early age? Where symptoms started at around 36 years of age! I had no major accidents and was not involved in any sports after High school. I had a normal childhood with no major illness. After HS I was in the Army till the end of Desert Storm in 1991. I was a truck driver till my symptoms started to show up in year 2000. My duties as a truck driver involved pushing - pulling, carrying and stacking heavy objects when I was not driving. The Army claims this has no connection to my military service. That would mean this occurred between 1991 and 2000. Which is hard for me to believe. My question is can this be considered normal? (In 2000 a German doctor told me my hip needs to be replaced within the next 5 years....I stretched it to 12 years)
Dear Patient: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that involves the whole joints, affecting not only the bones but ligaments, joint lining and joint cover (capsule) and also involves a progressive loss of cartilage. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common articular disease worldwide, affecting over 20 million individuals in the United States alone. The main symptoms are the aching pain, stiffness or difficulty moving the affected joints, for example: fingers, hips, knees and spine. Besides the drug treatment as Tylenol, which is the first drug recommended for osteoarthritis, there are several ways to help to improve the quality of life as follows: keep the weight under control, regular exercise may help to strengthen muscles and stimulate the cartilage growth, avoid high impact sports, taking antioxidant vitamins as C and E may provide some protection, also vitamin D(400 UI per day) and Calcium (1000-1200 mgs per day), hot soaks and warm paraffin application may relieve the pain, there are also assistive devices that can be used to improve function, alignment, provide support or correct deformities such as splints, braces, walkers, canes and orthopedic footwear. The arthritis foundation offers programs aimed to educate the patient about exercises, nutrition, relaxation and pain management.