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Risk Factors of Arthritis

Updated on June 5, 2009

Arthritis is a disease that can cause severe joint pain and limited mobility. It is commonly believed that arthritis only effects seniors and while it is true that the likelihood of contracting arthritis increases with age, arthritis can be found in people of all ages. In fact, in 2002 there were over 300,000 reported cases of arthritis in those under the age of 17.

While there are no known cures for arthritis, there are a number ways that arthritis can be treated and part of ensuring that these treatments are effective relies upon quickly diagnosing the disease.

This is why it is so important to speak with a doctor immediately if you experience any of the common symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pain or trouble walking, or if you are at an increased risk for developing arthritis.

There area number of known risk factors, which can increase the chance that an individual will develop arthritis at some point during their life. Some of the more common risk factors are described below.


A common misconception is that only the elderly can contract arthritis. This is not the case though, but the risk of arthritis does increase with age. For example, only around 8% of those between 18 and 44 are diagnosed with arthritis, while almost 50% of those over the age of 65 are diagnosed with arthritis.

So, while people of all ages, including children, can develop arthritis, it is more common among those over the age of 65.

Gender and Genetics

Statistically, women are more likely to develop arthritis, with 60% of those with arthritis being female. However, there are over 100 different kinds of arthritis and some are more common in males, while others are more common in females.

A number of different genes have been discovered, which increase the risk of arthritis. Some of these genes are passed down from an individuals parents, so there are some hereditary concerns.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

It has been shown that smoking tobacco can increase the risk of developing certain types of arthritis. Specifically, rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to occur in smokers.

Injury Infection and Work

Often, infection of the joint can lead to the development of arthritis. It is also not uncommon for those who have been injured, such as in a car accident, and experienced a joint injury to develop arthritis.

It is also not uncommon for people in certain professions that have to preform repetitive tasks to develop arthritis. For example, someone who spends a great deal of time writing online might be more likely to develop arthritis. It is also not uncommon for some people involved in certain sports to be more likely to develop arthritis.

Body Weight

Those who are overweight and obese are more likely to contract arthritis. Often, this is as a result of more wear and tear being put on the joints.

Importance of Promptly Diagnosing Arthritis

One of the most important steps in treating arthritis is properly and promptly diagnosing it. The sooner that a doctor can determine what type of arthritis is present, the sooner an effective treatment regime can begin. This is key in preventing some of the serious health ramifications that can occur as a result of arthritis or other Rheumatic Diseases. This is why it is important to understand the symptoms of arthritis and speak with a doctor, especially if you are at an increased risk of developing the disease.


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  • brad4l profile image

    brad4l 8 years ago from USA

    I am glad your Mother In Laws Arthritis is not getting any worse, that is excellent news.

    That is a great tip about washing the dishes Peggy,  because for a lot of people, heat can really help relieve arthritis pain.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    My mother-in-law had rheumatoid arthritis and took medication. Fortunately hers "burned out" according the the other words, beyond a certain point it did not seem to progress. Guess she was lucky.

    I read an entire book about it and with all the things you mentioned, exercise seems to be the prime remedy. Keep moving or lose agility. Examples of things to do with arthritis in the hands (for example) is to soak the hands in warm water. Actually doing the dishes in warm soapy water is GOOD for someone with arthritis as opposed to simply loading a dishwasher.

    EXERCISE, EXERCISE AND MORE EXERCISE although taken slow and with doctor approval was highly recommended if living with arthritis.

  • brad4l profile image

    brad4l 8 years ago from USA

    I am a little bit worried about it as well tonk21, especially considering how much typing I do everyday.

  • tonks21 profile image

    tonks21 8 years ago from V-Town

    I am kind of scared of having this problem when I am older. My mom has never had problems with it - but my father seems to be almost crippled by it! That is something I don't want to happen! Hopefully eating healthy foods will decrease the risk for me!