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Baby Boomers: The Arthritis Epidemic


Health

Baby Boomers: The Arthritis Epidemic

Baby boomers everywhere are now experiencing what they thought they never would: old age. Lots of the people born between 1946 and 1964 (the usual definition of a boomer) are now eligible for senior citizen discounts at restaurants. Many have grandchildren. And many have sore, creaky joints, the ultimate badge of aging.

Charlie Banks* of Billings, Montana, was at the younger end of the baby boom spectrum and when he played with his dogs or his two school-aged girls, he seemed younger still. But even at his age, he was no stranger to the pain of arthritis: This teacher and landscaper has severe bursitis in each elbow. And thanks to an incredible list of football injuries from his high school and college days, it may only be a matter of time before osteoarthritis creeps into his knees, ankles, and neck. “Someday I may need a cane,” he says incredulously.

People in Banks’ generation are putting a new face on arthritis. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health, aging baby boomers are at the center of a growing epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 54 million Americans have arthritis — and by 2030 that number is expected to jump to 67 million. If Banks ever does need a cane, he’ll be in good company.

RELATED: 4 Massages That Are Perfect For Achy Joints

Protecting your joints from arthritis

Such numbers should sound a warning to boomers everywhere. Arthritis or not, now is the time to start taking care of their joints. Webb, for one, plans to trim down his football-player physique, a step that would take some of the strain off his knees, hips, and ankles.

Most of all, he intends to keep moving — without overdoing it. Whether it’s a long walk with the dogs or a bike ride with his girls, regular exercise will keep his joints flexible for as long as possible. As muscles become stronger and tendons more limber, the pain and stiffness start to fade.

For patients with osteoarthritis, there’s another important benefit of exercise. Simply put, regular activity provides lifeblood to the cartilage that cushions joints. Unlike most tissues in the body,…



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