As baby boomers age, more of them are facing the aches and pains that often come with arthritis or chronic joint pain.

It is estimated 66 million, or nearly one in three adults, live with chronic joint pain. Baby boomers are at prime risk for the disease. Sandeep Varma, MD, rheumatologist in Norwich, CT, said it is important to keep your body in good shape.

“Keep your muscles toned, but don’t overdo things so much that you are injuring yourself.”

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is one of the most common types of arthritis. It is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. The condition affects nearly 21 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Symptoms typically begin after age 40 and progress slowly.

Dr. Varma said there are ways to reduce your risk of getting osteoarthritis:

* Obesity, too much weight can cause pressure on joints.
* Smoking is bad for cartilage and impairs the healing process.
* Excessive alcohol can cause joint issues and fatty cells in the bones; also people who drink in excess are more prone to injury.
* Past injuries.

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is also genetic, so some people are more prone to it.

“The new paradigm is that moderate activity helps joints last longer than no activity,” Dr. Varma said. “Pain management allows patients to do what they want to do.”

He said he expects to see an increase in knee and hip replacements in the aging population as well.

Carl Mailhot, PT, Director of ECRC Physical Therapy, said it is important for people to see a physical therapist who can give them pain management advice. He said adaptive devices can help those suffering from arthritis with everyday tasks, such as putting on socks or opening jars.

There also are sitting and sleeping postures that can reduce the strains and effects of arthritis.