Common ailments

Arthritis (knee pain)

I am a 35 year old woman and I’ve always enjoyed running as a means of keeping fit. In the past six months or so however I have been experiencing a lot of tenderness and swelling in my knees during and after going for a run. Is it possible that I’m getting arthritis?

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation within a joint and which can affect people of all ages. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK; in people affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between their bones gradually becomes damaged and worn, leading to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips and the condition becomes more common as you get older.

I would advise that you visit your GP who will probably be able to make a diagnosis based on your age, your typical symptoms and examination of your affected joints. Tests such as X-rays or blood tests are usually not needed, though your GP may suggestsome tests if they are uncertain about the diagnosis and want to exclude other problems. Thankfully, osteoarthritis is rare in people of your age and there is no evidence that running increases your risk of developing it. If however you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, this does not necessarily mean that your condition will become worse. You may also sometimes find that you experience a bad spell of symptoms followed by a relatively good period.

Whilst there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are a number of things that can be done to ease the symptoms. For example, your GP may recommend that you limit the amount of running you do and incorporate other forms of exercise, such as swimming, which can help to strengthen the muscles around the affected joints without causing excessive strain on the joints.


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