Who’s at risk for Arthritis?

Who’s at risk for Arthritis?

Image courtesy of Somkiat Fakmee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Somkiat Fakmee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arthritis affects one in every seven Americans. It affects people of all ages. It most often begins as a person gets older. Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around joints. These symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly. Only a doctor can tell if such symptoms are truly arthritis.



Who’s at risk for Arthritis?

The causes of most forms of arthritis are unknown, although we are learning more. People who are overweight have a higher chance of developing arthritis. Excess weight increases the risk for developing arthritis in the knees. This may also apply to the hips and hands. Women are at special risk for this. In men, excess weight increases the risk for developing gout. See a doctor or registered dietitian for help in losing weight.



Joint injuries caused by accidents or overuse increase the risk for some types of arthritis. Certain genes can be inherited that may increase the risk for some types of arthritis. More research is needed to find out how to reduce the risk from these factors.



Stress does not cause arthritis and reducing stress will not cure the disease. It is true, however, that pain from any cause can be made worse by a person’s reaction to stressful events or feelings. This normal reaction varies in severity from person to person. It is helpful to learn ways to control stress.

Arthritis is not caused by eating certain foods. However, some foods may irritate existing conditions. A small percentage of people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a flare-up after eating a specific food. Milk is the most common offender.




Arthritis refers to the more than 100 kinds of diseases that cause pain and swelling, and limit movement in joints and connective tissue. Arthritis is the number one cause of severe pain and disability that limits physical activity. In the United States, 40 million Americans have arthritis. Three million of these people are severely affected. It is usually chronic, meaning that it lasts a lifetime. The specific causes are not known for most types of the disease but much is known about the symptoms, and how to treat them.



Physicians diagnose the specific type of arthritis based upon the pattern of symptoms, medical history, physical exam, X-rays and lab tests.



The main symptoms of arthritis are:


* joint pain

* joint stiffness

* inability to move the joint freely and

* joint swelling


Other symptoms can include:


* fever

* fatigue

* flu-like symptoms

* skin rash and

* nodules in the skin


The key to effective treatment of symptoms is a personal plan devised for you by your health care provider. Symptom treatment usually includes:


* medicine

* exercise

* rest

* use of heat and cold

* joint protection techniques and

* sometimes surgery


Many things can be done to reduce the impact of arthritis on everyday life. Arthritis symptoms can be controlled with proper diagnosis and design of a treatment plan.

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