Two years ago, Willow Femmechild, 52, a nurse in Portland, Maine, started to feel knee pain when she went for a long walk or was on her feet more than usual at work. She had twisted one knee while lifting a patient 19 years earlier, and broken the other in the late 1980s–but since then, both knees had felt fine. The new discomfort was frustrating: Femmechild had put on 50 pounds over two years and was trying to get back in shape. “The more pain I had, the more sedentary I became; and the less exercise I got, the more weight I gained,” she says. Finally, she saw her doctor and learned that she had osteoarthritis (OA) in both of her knees.
Like Femmechild, nearly 21 million Americans suffer from OA, the most common form of arthritis. The numbers in the UK echo the US, says Gary Swanson of Arthritis Care Scotland. The disease affects joints–primarily the hips, knees, spine, and fingers–causing pain and swelling and making it tough to do everyday activities such as walking or grasping a pencil.
Though OA usually strikes people 50 and older, younger individuals aren’t immune. And as baby boomers age, the number of OA sufferers is expected to mushroom. Here are some commonly asked questions about this condition and information on what you can do to lower your risk of developing it.
What exactly is arthritis, and why do people get it?
Two of the most prevalent types of arthritis Continue reading