Arthritis Causes & Risks

Arthritis Causes & Risks

Arthritis Causes & Risks
Risk factors for arthritis vary depending on the type, but in general, genetics and lifestyle are the dominant causes. Any kind of excessive stress or injury to the joints may increase your risk, affecting people who are overweight or who play sports. The risk for some types of arthritis increase with age. Women are more likely to have arthritis of the hands and knees, while men are more likely to have arthritis of the hips, knees and spine.

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    A , Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered
    The causes of primary arthritis are not as well understood. In contrast to secondary arthritis, primary arthritis occurs without any directly identifiable cause. Primary arthritis tends to occur after the age of 45, and it becomes more common with advancing age. Arthritis tends to run in families, and most experts believe that it may have a genetic component. It seems reasonable that primary arthritis results from some combination of repetitive microtrauma to the joint, impaired or suboptimal biomechanics, and other unidentified factors, such as a potential genetic predisposition or environmental factors.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Many people assume that diet has a lot to do with the development of arthritis. Based on our current understanding, this notion is largely myth.

    However, there are some links between diet and arthritis. For example, getting enough milk and vitamin C is associated with a somewhat lower risk of gout. Gout is a disorder characterized by too much uric acid in the blood and tissues. Crystals of uric acid are deposited in the joints, where they cause a type of arthritis called gouty arthritis.

    The risk of developing gout appears to be higher among people with a diet that is high in:
    • meat
    • seafood
    • alcohol
    • high-fructose corn syrup (as in sweetened soft drinks)
    • purines (a form of protein found in sardines, liver and other organ meats)
    However, the vast majority of people who choose these foods and drinks never develop gout. And for those who already have gout, drug treatments are usually more effective and reliable than changing what they eat and drink.

    Another condition in which diet may affect arthritis risk is celiac disease. This is an immune reaction to gluten in the diet. Gluten is a component of wheat and other grains. By eliminating gluten from the diet (by avoiding many bread products, cereals and a host of other common foods), the condition can be controlled and the arthritis improved.

    There is no clear connection between diet and these common forms of arthritis:
    • osteoarthritis
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • lupus
    Removing certain types of foods or adding others to treat arthritis have met with inconclusive or disappointing results.

    Perhaps the most important connection between diet and arthritis is the well-known link between obesity and the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis. The best way to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid a diet that contributes to obesity. Recent studies suggest that obese people with osteoarthritis have less pain if they lose weight. (However, genetics have an impact on osteoarthritis risk. Changes in diet alone do not reliably reduce arthritis symptoms.)

    We may someday figure out that diet matters much more than we realize now. But, at the current time, diet plays little or no role in the development of most joint diseases.
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    Most saturated fats trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body, which exacerbates arthritis symptoms. Many doctors recommend that arthritis patients limit their consumption of whole-dairy products (such as whole milk, cheese and ice cream) and animal products (such as red meat and poultry), and replace them with healthier choices, like cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Doctors who recommend fish to alleviate joint pain and stiffness say the benefits are maximized when other animal fats are minimized. In addition, in a 2004 study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, British researchers identified a high level of red meat consumption as an independent risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis after finding that the subjects who ate the most red meat were twice as likely to develop the disease as those who limited their intake to less than an ounce per day.
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    Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

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    A Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of
    The ankle joint is subjected to more weight-bearing force per square centimeter than any other joint in the body. Hindfoot arthritis can result from trauma such as fractures, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or related conditions such as tibialis posterior tendinosis. While trauma and/or abnormal ankle mechanics are the most common causes of degenerative changes, obesity and excessive or repetitive motion may also contribute
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    A Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of

    Big toe arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joint at the bottom of the big toe, called the metatarsophalangeal joint. When cartilage wears down in the metatarsophalangeal joint, the raw bone ends can rub together. The condition, big toe arthritis, can result from many factors, including differences in foot anatomy that increase the stress on the joint, such as fallen arches, rheumatoid arthritis and past injuries that may have damaged the articular cartilage.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Probably not. However, there are some important details that may change my answer:
    • What type of arthritis runs in the family? There are more than 100 types, some of which are at least partly genetic.
    • How old were the family members when they developed arthritis? The younger they were, the more likely that it's a condition that may be inherited.
    • Has the distance running been associated with injuries? If so, this may increase the risk of arthritis (with or without a family history of arthritis).
    Past research that examined whether running increases the risk of arthritis has been mixed, but some of the best studies have shown no increased risk. Such studies are difficult to perform because they may take decades of follow-up or they may rely on self-reported diagnosis of arthritis (which may be inaccurate).

    Also, there are many variables that affect a person's risk of arthritis and the likelihood they would become a runner. For example, people who gain significant weight may be less likely to run regularly. And they are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knees and hips. As a result, non-runners might seem to be at higher risk of arthritis than runners even if the risk of arthritis is not directly related to running.

    As far as I know, the impact of family history on long-term arthritis risk associated with competitive distance running has not been well studied. Research in the mid-1990s, however, did find that older runners had less disability related to arthritis than non-runners, even after accounting for a family history of arthritis.

    In my view, a family history of arthritis is not a reason to avoid distance running. But, the details matter.
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    A , Nutrition & Dietetics, answered

    Everyone is different and may / may not experience aggravation from the intake of a particluar food. However, studies indicate the following foods tend to trigger arthritis and fibromyalgia:

    • Acidic ("nightshade") foods seem to trigger pain: Chocolate, tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers, red meat, sugar, carbonated drinks and drinks containing alcohol.
    • Fried foods may aggravate pain and swelling.
    • Caffeinated containing foods have the potential to increase the elimination of water that may be needed by your body to help flush away toxins and minimize episodes of swelling.
    • Cow-milk products may trigger increased episodes of fatigue.
    • Foods with added sugar tend to compromise the ability of your body to absorb essential vitamins and mineral.
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    A Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of
    In arthritis of the midfoot, the joints of the midfoot can begin to wear out for a variety of reasons. If they are injured by a fall, a twist or a crush accident, progressive degeneration of the joints can begin. Sometimes an individual’s foot anatomy places more pressure on one portion of the foot, causing a joint to wear. In addition, small amounts of loosening of the joints or slight flattening of the foot can begin the degeneration toward arthritis.
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    A , Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered
    People who are obese have a significantly increased risk of developing arthritis, because obesity is an important source of chronic microtrauma to the cartilage. Joints are designed for carrying, properly distributing, and cushioning body weight. They are also capable of taking on temporary excess loads. For example, stress on the joints is greatly increased when we carry groceries, lift weights, bend over, or run up stairs. However, joints do have limits.

    Each step you take while walking involves temporarily transferring your weight primarily onto one joint. When you factor in momentum, biomechanics, and gravity, your knees and hips experience up to three times as much pressure as your body weight with each step. If you weigh 140 pounds, your knee joints may experience as much as 320 pounds of weight with each step. When you walk down a flight of stairs, your hip and knee joints may experience as much as a six-fold increase in weight, so that same 140-pound person experiences as much as 640 pounds across the knees and hips.

    In other words, every pound you gain punishes your joints up to six-fold. Research clearly bears this out; overweight men are five times more likely to develop arthritis, and overweight women are four times more likely to develop it than are their non-overweight counterparts. For every 10 pounds of excess weight gain, the risk of developing arthritis increases by 40 percent. Every time you take a step, the extra weight places increased pressure on your weight-bearing joints, because the load is too great for your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The joints shift under the weight and, ultimately, they are overwhelmed, resulting in repetitive microtears in the cartilage. Additional stresses are taken up by static portions of your bone, creating friction. Your bone responds by trying to build new bone, but the new bone is weaker than the original bone, and the process of arthritis is well on its way.