With over 100 different types of arthritis, it’s no mystery why there are millions of people across the globe that suffer from this painful disease. Diagnosing the reason for joint pain can sometimes be tricky for doctors because, aside from arthritis, it can be caused by injury, infection, or other reasons. Also, many times joint pain or stiffness is very mild or intermittent, so people don’t seek treatment. Then, by the time the pain is severe enough to visit a doctor, they may already have an advanced case of arthritis.
Many cases of arthritis are passed on through genes. Doctors will often ask about family history when trying to determine the cause of joint pain. For example, the propensity to develop rheumatoid arthritis can be inherited if your family has a history of autoimmune disorders. Carrying a gene for arthritis does not necessarily decide your fate, as there is no definitive chance of developing the disease—just an increased likelihood.
The chance of developing arthritis increases with age, as wear and tear on joints starts to affect mobility and the cartilage in joints wears away. Also, as we age, the body loses some of its ability to heal as well or as quickly. Most people who are diagnosed with arthritis are over the age of 50, although some types of arthritis can affect people of any age, even children.
Another major risk factor for arthritis is being overweight. Carrying extra weight places much more stress on joints than they can handle. The friction can wear the cartilage away and cause bones to rub together doing joint movement. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to stave off the development of arthritis. Another is eating healthy and paying attention to foods that have anti inflammatory properties, such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids. There are also many anti-inflammatory supplements available on the market. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to provide your body with lots of nutrients and antioxidants, plus help manage your weight.
Exercising can also help burn extra calories and has been proven to vastly improve symptoms of arthritis, like increasing range of motion and diminishing joint pain and stiffness.
The risk factors and causes of arthritis are numerous, but doing these few simple things can help prevent it, or ease symptoms of a case you have already developed. The most important thing is seeing a doctor at the first sign of discomfort so he/she can try to determine the reason for your pain and get you set up with the proper treatment. Also, before starting any type of exercise plan or taking any supplement, always ask your doctor’s opinion. They can give you advice on how to proceed, based on your individual diagnosis.