Arthritis – a Disease or a Disorder?
Many of us are affected by arthritis, or know someone who is. Arthritis is a condition of moderate to severe pain that affects the joints, but what exactly is it that causes some people to get arthritis while others don’t?
The quick and easy answer as to what causes arthritis is that we really don’t know yet. There’s no one answer that explains every case. There’s no “arthritis disease” that you catch like a cold that causes you to develop symptoms.
Arthritis is simply a joint disorder that develops with time. In fact, there are over a hundred types of arthritis and many of them are probably caused by different factors.
What we do know, however, is that there are some risk factors that increase your chances or having a problem. Whilst they may not be the root cause of your arthritis, they could definitely be exacerbating the problem.
One of the biggest risk factors associated with arthritis is age. You know that as you get older, there’s more wear and tear on your body. Arthritis may not be caused specifically by wear and tear on the joints, but it will definitely speed up the process or increase the symptoms. That is why a large number of people over 65 have arthritis, regardless of the other factors.
Another thing that can increase your chances of developing arthritis is weight. If you are overweight, you’re going to increase the stress on your joints and will likely have more problems with arthritis. Starting a diet and exercise plan now may reduce symptoms or slow the progress of the disease.
Joint injury is often a factor in developing arthritis. Just like all the other factors, it’s not a root cause; however, you’re more likely to develop arthritis in a joint that has had a previous injury. If you do injure yourself, be sure to care for it properly so it heals quickly and doesn’t get damaged again.
Doctors aren’t really sure how big a part genetics plays in the development of arthritis, but they do know it’s related. If your parents have arthritis, it’s more likely that you will as well. Although this doesn’t mean that just because your parents had it, you will too.
Many people associate arthritis with athletes and other physically active people. Though it makes sense that physical work will put more stress on joints and increase the likelihood of arthritis, studies really haven’t shown this to be true. However, the risk of athletes developing arthritis is higher, but this is associated with their increased chance of joint injury. This means you can continue your daily exercise routine (it will probably even help), but always take precautions to avoid injury.
When most people think of arthritis, they’re often thinking of osteoarthritis. However, rheumatoid arthritis is a less common but very serious illness. While symptoms can be similar the causes are not. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body is actually attacking itself and causing damage to its own joints. Meaning that there’s not much you can do to help yourself, except rely on your doctor and sensible pain management.
The truth is that, whilst you can’t prevent arthritis or control all these factors, you can take steps to reduce them, keeping yourself pain free for longer.