Arthritis is a said to be the disorder of joints. It causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints. It is a complex term. Arthritis hinders the daily activities of people. The study of arthritis is also vast. There are over 100 types of arthritis and the factors leading to arthritis are also huge in numbers. Arthritis is not caused by a single factor only but several factors together lead to arthritis. Some forms of arthritis do not have any specific cause behind them and are unpredictable. The factors vary according to the type of arthritis. Some are more prone to this disease due to their genetic makeup and some are due to past injury, infection.
Let’s discuss some of the most prominent factors which lead to arthritis.
The factors causing arthritis are differentiated into two categories:
- Non-modifiable factors
- Modifiable risk factors
Non-modifiable Factors: These factors are those over which we don’t have any control. These factors include –
- Age: The age is such a factor over which we don’t have any control. Though arthritis can occur at any age, still the risk of developing arthritis increases with age. As we get older, the wear and tear of cartilage start which increases the exposure of joints with each other. Then this results in arthritis.
- Gender: Arthritis can affect both men and women. The statistics show that women are more prone to form of arthritis than men. As Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis more commonly occurs in women. Likewise, Gout is more commonly seen in men.
- Hormone: Hormones are also responsible for causing arthritis. In women change in estrogen and progesterone level can cause osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of RA improve during pregnancy which flares up again after the birth. Women with irregular menses or those who have early menopause are at greater risk of developing arthritis. Also, use of hormonal medicines, oral contraceptives or birth control pills imbalances the hormone level and thus increases the risk of developing arthritis.
- Genes: Genetic factors are also responsible for causing arthritis. Specific types of genes are associated with a certain type of arthritis. Such as people containing human leukocyte antigen (HLA) have a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis rather than people without these genes.
Modifiable Factors: These factors are those which we can control. These factors include environmental and lifestyle factors like –
- Diet: Intake of unhealthy food increases the risk of weight gain which leads to arthritis. Gout is associated with the dietary intake. Food rich in sodium increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Diet rich in calories, purines are supposed to increase the risk of developing arthritis.
- Overweight and Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to arthritis. Extra weight on the joints increases the stress on the joints which make them weak and can result in damage or injury to them. Extra weight puts an excess pressure on the joints of knees and hip which increases the risk of developing Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Also, the fat presents in the body promotes inflammation. The symptoms get worse and worse in overweight patients rather than healthy weight patients.
- Smoking: Smoking is also found to be one of the major factors contributing to arthritis. Exposure to nicotine plays a big role in the progression of RA. The research is still going on how smoking triggers arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form which occurs due to smoking. Smoking can also interfere with the effectiveness of arthritis medications which can make it more severe.
- Joint Injuries: Any damage to the joints can contribute to the development of arthritis in the joints. Such as, injury to the knee can cause Osteoarthritis of the knee. As per the study, it was found that the people who had any joint injury in the past are more likely to get pain in that joint in the future.
- Occupation: People involved in certain occupations such as repetitive knee bending and squatting are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee. Other kinds of sports such as football, basketball, rugby etc are also associated with knee arthritis
- Physical activity: Lack of physical activity is associated with increased risk of developing arthritis. The progression and severity of different types of arthritis depend upon physical activity more or less. Though arthritis is not directly associated with lack of physical activity, it increases the risk of weight gain which is one the leading factor of arthritis. In controlling, inflammation and other related symptoms in arthritis physical activity play an important role. By incorporating the habit of exercise into your daily routine, we can prevent the risk of arthritis. Sometimes our job profile is also responsible for developing arthritis. Sitting for longer durations continuously makes us obese and ultimately we get becomes the sufferers of arthritis.
- Infection: Infections can also result in arthritis. The infections are found to be the initiators of inflammation in arthritis. Infection in the synovial fluid and tissues of the joint cause infectious arthritis. Bacterial infection is common, but viral and fungal infection can also be there. Through the bloodstream, these infections spread from the infected nearby tissue and eventually infects a joint. The persons with weaker immunity are more prone to infectious disease and which increases the risk of developing arthritis.
So, there are couples of factors which if not managed on time can cause life changing disability. Before taking any treatment, it is good for us to understand first the factors behind the disease then only we should go for effective treatment and management plan. Also treating and managing is not merely a cup of tea. It requires lots of efforts and patience. Some of the factors are manageable which requires only efforts and will power. By making necessary modifications in our daily routine we can prevent this disease. Although there is no cure for arthritis, we can control and manage the factors which can prevent the symptoms from getting worse. The idea should be to stay fit and healthy to enjoy the life without any limitations.
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