If you suspect your hip or knee pain is from arthritis, you might be right: At least one in four Americans has been diagnosed with an arthritic condition.

If you think there’s nothing to do except suffer in silence, you’re wrong.

“Some people think that joint pain will go away on its own, or that it’s from age and there’s nothing they can do. But if it’s arthritis, there are many things that we can do,” says Mark Shekhman, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at The Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital.

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No, you’re not too young for arthritis.

Tens of millions of Americans of all ages are suffering from joint pain, stiffness and mobility issues due to arthritis. It’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Even in less severe cases, it interferes with everyday activities and quality of life.

“There are many different types of arthritis, and these conditions can have many causes,” says Dr. Shekhman.

Yes, age is at the top of the list. However, arthritis can also be caused by musculoskeletal conditions that a person is born with, wear and tear on joints from sports overuse or obesity, or an acute injury like a broken bone.

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Attention athletes: Your hip, knee or joint pain might be arthritis.

“Active individuals, and people who love physical fitness, put a lot of mileage on their bodies,” says Dr. Shekhman. “That can lead to arthritis, or make an arthritic condition worse.”

But because athletes tend to regard aches and pains as a part of playing sports, they might not recognize the signs of an arthritic condition.

How can you tell when pain is from an injury versus arthritis? You’ll need an expert’s help to be sure, but one good indicator is time.

“Bumps, bruises, sprains and strains should usually resolve after about two to six weeks,” says Dr. Shekhman. “If your joint pain lasts beyond that, it’s a good idea to have it evaluated for arthritis.”

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Your doctor can guide you to the right treatment.

“If you have arthritis, there are a spectrum of ways we can help,” says Dr. Shekhman.

Some patients get better with simple lifestyle changes, like weight loss. Others need physical therapy to strengthen their joints, or injections to manage their pain. In extreme cases, some need surgery like a joint replacement.

Regardless, the first step is to find out if you have arthritis. Reach out to your primary care doctor, or contact Hartford HealthCare’s orthopedic offices to see how we can help.

Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor can help you return to your favorite activities, whether that’s playing with the grandkids or tackling your next fitness challenge.

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