According to a recent report cited in the Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that one in four adults in the United States suffers from arthritis. To put this into a better perspective, 54 million adults have this condition, and not all of them are elderly as you would typically imagine. And to break it down even further, about 8 million millennials have been diagnosed with arthritis.

So what’s the cause? It’s a combination of technology usage and excessive workouts like CrossFit that put too much use on their joints.

The Case for Technology

Think about how today’s technology is used. We all frequently type on a keyboard whether it’s in front of a computer screen or directly on your smartphone. As for millennials, they’ve grown up in a world full of technology easily accessible at their fingertips. From computers, cell phones, and controllers for video games, it’s become a habit for many millennials to be tapping away at something in their hands.

All of these technological advances require heavy usage of fingers and thumbs. And with 27 bones in each hand, developing finger and thumb arthritis is quite common! In fact, researchers believe that arthritis in wrists and fingers could be an increasing problem since many adults text frequently and have spent too much time playing video games as kids. The repetitive motion of texting and hitting buttons on a controller puts a lot of stress on joints, which can cause arthritic over time.

The Case for Excessive Workouts

James Francisco, a 29-year old former college football player, has been playing sports his entire life. However, every time he finished his workouts, he had a dull pain in his knees that would last two to three hours. After seeing a physical therapist, Francisco was diagnosed with early onset arthritis. “You wouldn’t think you would hear those words in your 20s,” said Francisco.

Francisco has a point, because many millennials would never fathom having arthritis this early in their lifetime. But his physical therapist, Dr. Karena Wu, says she’s seen an increasing number of millennials with arthritis or joint inflammation at an early age. Why? Parents have been enrolling children in competitive sports like football and soccer at a younger age. As these children grow up, they’ve been inclined to participate in intensive workouts like CrossFit or competitions like the Tough Mudder.  

“They are doing more intense activities, they’re spending a longer time participating in sports, and they’re doing so many sports that they don’t take a break,” says Wu. “Their muscles are getting a lot more use than we would have gotten growing up as a kid and playing in the backyard.” All of that muscle usage is certainly taking a toll on millennial’s joints, causing pain in places like the knees, shoulders and wrists.

If you’re a millennial, have you noticed any pain on your joints? Let me know in the comments below.