Jennie Garth Was 'Shocked' by Osteoarthritis Diagnosis, Thought She Wasn't 'Old Enough' to Have It

·4 min read
Jennie Garth for Voltaren
Jennie Garth for Voltaren

Voltaren

Jennie Garth is opening up about what her lifestyle looks like while managing her arthritis.

The Beverly Hills, 90210 alum, 50, recently spoke to PEOPLE and detailed the "shocking" moment she learned she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and why sharing her story for others is so important.

"I'm just used to being a go-getter and taking care of business all the time. And I had three little girls to raise and I've always had dogs. I've always been up and down on my knees, up and just doing everything, in and out of the car a million times a day it feels like. And those little things started to not feel as painless as they always had," the actress tells PEOPLE. "And so it was just this sort of creeping realization that something was different," she adds. "That's what sort of caused me to go in to the doctor initially."

Garth was diagnosed with osteoarthritis around the age of 45. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs "when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time," according to the Mayo Clinic.

The condition can affect any joint but is most commonly found in the hands, knees, hips and spine. The damage is not reversible but symptoms can be managed by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and receiving treatment.

RELATED: Jennie Garth Reveals Early-Onset Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

Jennie Garth for Voltaren
Jennie Garth for Voltaren

Voltaren

"I was sort of shocked to hear that news from my doctor after going in and complaining about some pain in my knees and my hips and different places around my body and wondered what was going on. And I was shocked to hear the word arthritis come out of his mouth," she explains. "Because I kind of associate arthritis with... I'm not old enough to have arthritis. Let's put it that way. But yeah, you can have arthritis at any age and I wasn't really aware of that."

As someone who's always been active, she thinks her years of physical activity may have taken took a toll on her joints. But, she says, arthritis also runs in her family.

"I started talking to my mom and other members of my family, finding out that they suffer from it as well. So many people do but they don't want to talk about it," she says. "So it was one of those situations and just sort of acknowledging it and being open and honest about it. Let's talk about how to work with it, how to fix it, how to alleviate some of the pain."

One of the ways Garth alleviates her pain is through her partnership with Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel — an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory gel intended to treat osteoarthritis — and their CareWalks initiative for September's Pain Awareness Month.

The star says she's "stoked" to use her platform to shine a light on those dealing with their own pain and suffering in silence.

RELATED: Jennie Garth Says Learning About Her Leaky Heart Valve Encouraged Her to 'Be More Educated' About Her Health

"This is just an opportunity to kind of use my situation to open up conversations and help other people with that," Garth says. "To find out how to use Voltaren Gel to help, it was a great thing for me. But also to be able to share that information with other people who are suffering from arthritis pain."

Along with the topical remedy, Garth tries to use constant movement to treat her osteoarthritis, staying busy, mobile and flexible to keep her health intact. She also had made changes to her diet by eating anti-inflammatory foods like berries and whole grains.

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The actress, who celebrated her 50th birthday in April, admitted that she's "definitely" in a good place now with managing her arthritis.

"It's something that you just start to sort of live with and learn how to manage and through different products and different exercise and diet regimes. It's not like it's debilitating in any way. It's just something that you're aware of," Garth tells PEOPLE. "And as we get older, it's really very important… It's very important to be your own health advocate. You're sort of the CEO of you. You really run your business. Because no one else is going to."