What Causes Arthritis?
Learn the 4 Risk Factors that Could Lead to Your Diagnosis
The term “arthritis” serves as a catch-all name for over 100 different conditions that describe some form of inflammation caused by cartilage wearing away at the joints. However, while you might show several symptoms that assist in a diagnosis, simply displaying some joint pain and stiffness doesn’t mean you have arthritis, as there is no single core cause.
To be clear, medical professionals know what arthritis is, and they know how to treat it effectively, but the scientific community is still unclear on exactly why the condition occurs in some people and not others. What we’re left with are the contributing factors and environmental triggers that can indicate you might be more susceptible to arthritis.
Thus, it’s important to understand the four factors that could potentially lead to arthritis: Genetic History, Injury History, Age, and Lifestyle.
In the simplest terms, if one of your ancestors had arthritis, there’s a very good chance you will develop it as well. This is especially true for the two most common forms of the condition: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, while scientists have not been able to isolate a specific gene related to disease – nothing they can pinpoint in your genetic code can convincingly confirm you will develop it – there is definitely a genetic element involved.
Specific to osteoarthritis, you stand a greater chance of developing it if you have any history of injury to your joints. We’re not claiming that you will become arthritic if you break your ankle or fingers, but it’s more an assertion that your risk is higher with those injuries – especially if you they are not treated properly with surgery and physical therapy.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone, you become increasingly susceptible to arthritis as you age. Since the basic definition of the condition involves the cartilage at your joints wearing away to the point that your bones rub directly against each other, it makes sense that this will happen the older you get – no matter how healthy you are.
We use “lifestyle” as an overarching descriptor for factors like obesity, diet, exercise regimen, and overall health. For example, if you are overweight (which can be related to your genetics), you put greater stress and strain on your joints, which could lead to the development of arthritis. Also, smoking has been linked to an increase in the potential for rheumatoid arthritis. Those are but two examples of your lifestyle increasing your likelihood for the disease.
As you might notice, this is the only possible cause of the condition you can directly control. While you can’t alter your genes, prevent injuries from occurring, or stop the aging process, you can change your behaviors. In short, the best way to stave off the potential onset of arthritis is to enjoy a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid carcinogens, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Ultimately, while determining the true underlying causes of arthritis can feel nebulous due to their imprecise nature, it’s still important to learn about the factors that can and do impact the onset of this condition so you know what to look for if the symptoms ever appear.