Arthritis: Causes and risk factors you need to know

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About 50 million American adults each year are currently suffering from some forms of arthritis. This common chronic disease takes a huge impact on their lives by causing pain and stiffness as well as inflammation in and around one or more body joints.

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An overview about Arthritis

In fact, “arthritis” is definitely not a single disease as people usually think. This term is a formal way to describe hundreds different varieties of joint pain or joint diseases that have specific symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Originated from the Greek words, the term arthritis is a combination of two ancient words: “arthron” means joint and “itis” means “inflammation”. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do easily become the victims of arthritis,  most common among women and appear more frequently when people get  older.

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It is estimated that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis as well as related conditions. Among different varieties of this disease, osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common types. Other serious types include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), and psoriatic arthritis.

What Causes Arthritis?

The causes of arthritis are still not fully understood. In fact, there is no such thing as single cause of all types of arthritis, since it ranges from person to person.

It also depends on the type or form of arthritis. Scientists still do not find out exactly what causes hundred of conditions and varieties of arthritis.

Most types of this common disease are caused by a combination of many factors coming at the same time. In addition, some arthritis conditions or varieties don’t have obvious cause or in some cases, it seems to be unpredictable.

Risk factors of Arthritis

As we mentioned above, the exact cause of arthritis is still a mystery. Nevertheless, there are risk factors increasing the chances that one person will develop a disease or condition.

Each form of this common disease has its own specific risk factors, some of which we cannot change i.e., non-modifiable risk factors and others that we can control i.e., modifiable risk factors.

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Here are some of the most common risk factors for the beginning and development of the disease :

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Age: In fact, arthritis can appear at any age. The risk of developing most types of this disease raises with age. The older you are, the more your risk of arthritis is.
  • Sex: It is proved that most types of arthritis are more common in in females. An estimated 64% of all people suffering from arthritis are women while ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and gout is more common in males than females
  • Hormones: According to some recent studies, the change of hormones in our body can link to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is observed that the disease changes occurring around menopause and pregnancy, especially in RA). Hormones have also been discovered to affect on disease progression.
  • Genetics: Specific genes come together with a higher risk of certain types of this disease as RA, SLE, and AS. It is proved that some certain genes affect the severity of RA.

Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Diet and Nutrition: plays an essential role in managing arthritis and the risk of arthritis, especially in healthy weight maintenance – the key factor in the prevention/reduction of disease progression. It is also an defined risk factor for gout development and management.
  • Overweight and Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee, hip and hand osteoarthritis (OA). It is also associated with severity/progression of several types of this disease.
  • Smoking: is considered to lead to the progression and severity of RA and SLE.
  • Occupation: Certain occupations involving repetitive knee bending and squatting are accomplished with OA of the knee and hip.
  • Testosterone: According to the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases from Lund University, Sweden, males with low testosterone have higher risk of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis later.
  • Wearing high heels : Wear high heels increases loading across women’s knee, which is considered one of the factors leading to knee arthritis.
  • Broken Bones: In fact, not all broken bones are arthritis risk factors, but broken bones increase the risk of arthritis in the joint near the bone, as that broken  is it changes the way the joint is loaded. The load across the joint isn’t distributed the same way anymore, especially if the break goes through the joint, which some do.”
  • Knee Injury: One of the most complicated joints in our body is knee. As surrounded by a lot of soft tissue, the knee joint is vulnerable to injury. Therefore, even a torn ligament in the knee can lead to arthritis risk. Protect your knees — and care for them as directed if they are injured.
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