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Healthline Physical Health

How does arthritis affect young adults?

Arthritis is a group of more than 100 diseases causing chronic pain and joint inflammation. Most types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, are more common in middle-aged and older people. But arthritis also occurs in young adults.
Young adults with arthritisTrusted Source may develop juvenile arthritis as children. Additionally, their symptoms may start in young adulthood. Getting an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment can help.
Certain factors increase a young person’s likelihood of developing arthritis. Gender, genetics, and having excess weightTrusted Source all play a role.
It is challenging to receive an arthritis diagnosis at a young age. But there are various treatment options available that allow people with arthritis to live full and active lives.
Read more to learn about how different types of arthritis affect young people, and about diagnosis and treatment.

Types of arthritis

There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Some of the most common includeTrusted Source:

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritisTrusted Source (RA) is an autoimmune disease. This means it causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, usually in the joints and sometimes in the organs. It can affect multiple joints and a person’s overall health.
A 2017 study examining people with RA found that it affected 0.41–0.54%Trusted Source of the adult population. The prevalence increased with age, and the disease was more common in women than in men.
Because it is an autoimmune disease, RA also affects young adults. A 2018 study of 52,840 people, 10,568 of whom had RA, identified RA as an independent risk factor for certain conditions. It found that young adults with RA may have an increased risk of cerebrovascular diseases (CVD), such as stroke and coronary artery disease, and that the risk of CVD or coronary artery disease was 2.35 times higher in young adults with RA.


Osteoarthritis (OA)Trusted Source, the most common type of arthritis, results from gradual wear and tear on the cartilage-cushioning joints. Anything that increases wear and tear on the joints, such as high-impact sports or having excess weight, may increase a person’s risk for OA. This applies to both older and young adults.
Because it happens due to gradual wear on the joints, OA is more common in older adults. A 2020 review of 88 studies found a global prevalence of knee OA of 16%Trusted Source among people over the age of 15 years and 22.9% among people over the age of 40 years.

Juvenile arthritis

Juvenile arthritisTrusted Source is arthritis that appears during childhood. It comes in many forms, but the most common is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which is a type of RA.
Although juvenile arthritis sometimes goes away on its own, it may persist into adulthood.
A 2020 population-based study followed Norwegians with juvenile arthritis for 18 years. At the end of the study, 46%Trusted Source still had active arthritis, and most people still needed to take medication. Just 33% achieved remission without disease-modifying drugs.


GoutTrusted Source is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It happens when there is too much uric acid, a waste product, in the body. Certain medical conditions, such as kidney failure and heart failure, can increase a person’s risk for developing it.
While gout is more common in older people, it can also occur in young adults.
A 2019 study found that from 2015 to 2016, 3.2%Trusted Source of American adults experienced gout. It suggested that gout may be a more serious risk factor of poor heart health in people under 40 years old.
Additionally, being diagnosed with gout as a young adult correlates with an increased risk of another gout flare-up.
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