Seniors seem to have more opportunities for character development than people of younger generations.  It’s no secret to any of us that our bodies fail to perform at the level they did in our earlier years.  Consequently, we become more susceptible to diseases that try our patience and cause us suffering and inconvenience.  A common example is arthritis.

Arthritis is a general term for conditions that occur in joints or tissues around the joints.  There are in excess of 100 types of arthritis. 

Most Common Arthritis in the US

Most types of arthritis bring pain and stiffness in and around the affected joint or joints.  Other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, also affect the immune system and some internal organs of the body.  

In the United States, the most common form of Arthritis is osteoarthritis.  Other common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and fibromyalgia.

Different arthritis types have different symptoms.  For most types of arthritis, pain and stiffness in and around one or more of the joints, are the prevailing symptoms.  Symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over time, depending on the type of arthritis.  Symptoms may also come and go, or persist over time.

Cause of Arthritis

The causes of arthritis are largely unknown.  It is known that gout is caused by too much uric acid in the body.  Sometimes specific infections can cause arthritis.  Scientists are looking for causes of arthritis by considering factors such as lifestyle, genetics, and environment to learn of more possible causes and risk factors.

There are some risk factors that tend to increase our chance of getting arthritis.  Some of these risk factors we can control.  Others, well, not so much.  First, the ones we can control.

Risk Factors for Arthritis

Overweight and obese.  I didn’t say it would be easy.  I certainly struggle with it.  Extra weight puts more stress on our weight-bearing joints, especially the hips and knees.

What we can do.  Maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, eat healthy food and limit snacks.

Infection.  Microbial agents, such as bacteria and viruses, can infect joints and may cause the development of some types of arthritis.

What we can do.  If your joints become swollen, red, or warm, see our doctor right away.  It might be an infection.

Joint injuries.  A joint injury of overuse of a joint, such as repetitive knee bending, can injure a joint and contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in that joint.

What we can do.  Protect the joint by limiting the repetitive use of the joint.  See a physical therapist for exercises to strengthen the joint.  Look into getting a support band for the joint.

 Occupations.  Occupations that require repetitive use of the knee joint (for example) are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.

What we can do.  Make sure we have the necessary tools that meet our physical limitations, nearby.  Learn about ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Smoking.  If we are smoking, don’t.  Stop.  I know that sounds easier than it really is.  Smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and can make the disease worsen.  It can also make it more difficult to exercise which can also make it more difficult to manage the disease.

Risk factors we cannot control include:

Age.  As we get older, our risk factors increase.

Gender.  Women are more susceptible to more types of arthritis than men.  Women are at greater risk for osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Men are at greater risk for gout.  Science does not understand the reasons for the disparity in gender suseptability.

Role of Genetics

Genetics and inheritied traits.  People who inherit specific genes are more likely to develop some types of arthritis.  Science does not know why this happens.

As we all know, regardless of the amount of knowledge we possess, life still has far more questions than answers.  While we may feel proud of the great amount of knowledge we have gained, a slim realization of the far greater amount of knowledge we lack, should keep us very humble. 

If there is interest in tapping into the Source of all knowledge, please allow me to suggest Amazing Wonders of Creation.

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