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Who is Most Susceptible to Arthritis?

Boyd W. Haynes, MD
In my practice as an Orthopaedic Physician, the majority of the patients I see on a daily basis will have some level of Arthritis. Most will have Osteoarthritis (OA) and a few will have less common, auto-immune forms like Rheumatoid (RA) or Psoriatic (PA). But who exactly is at risk for developing Arthritis and is there anything that you can do to lower the odds of getting it? In this article, I am going to outline what you can and can’t do to improve your chances of living without Arthritis.
What You Cannot Change
Genetics – If your parents had Arthritis, chances are good you will too. Conversely, you will be less likely to develop it if your parents didn’t. There is also a genetic component to certain types of Arthritis, such as RA.
Age – If you are lucky to live a very long life, chances are more in favor of you developing Arthritis.
Gender – Women are more likely to develop some forms of Arthritis, like Rheumatoid Arthritis and men are more likely to develop Gout. We are not sure why this happens.
What You Can Control
Your Career Choices – Occupations that involve a lot of bending, squatting and lifting contribute to the development of OA. Roofers, miners, flooring installers, etc. all may see a higher incidence of Arthritis.
Body Weight – Excess weight can contribute to the development of Osteoarthritis in weight bearing joints. Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
Getting Injured – Being involved in contact sports or having an injury to a joint can make you more likely to develop OA. Choosing less physical sports and being careful to warm up, cool down and stretch can help. Also, muscle strengthening exercises can help to protect joints by stabilizing them.
Infections – some infections can adversely affect the joints making them less resilient. Don’t ignore symptoms and get treated for any infection by a physician.
Muscle Weakness – Muscles provide support and stability for our bones and joints. When our muscles are weak, the joints can become unstable and can more easily be injured. Exercise, lifting weights and stretching can help you to improve your muscle strength, thereby protecting your joints.
While you can’t changes everything in your life to prevent arthritis, there are certainly steps you can take to decrease your odds. Doing these, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle will go a long way toward helping you achieve wellness.

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