Nearly 59 million Americans suffer from arthritis. That’s one in every four people. It’s the most common chronic disorder in the United States. What really causes this painful condition? And is arthritis hereditary? It may help to learn a bit more about it.
There Are Many Types of Arthritis
There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis, but the majority of Americans suffer from either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common. Usually, it happens when a joint is overused or injured. It most commonly hits the knees, hips, and back and comes on more gradually than other types. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It attacks healthy cells by mistake, and that causes them to swell. It can cause chronic pain that lasts for some time.
Is Arthritis Hereditary?
Each type of arthritis works differently. Some have a genetic component while others do not.
- Osteoarthritis tends to occur as people reach their forties and fifties. It’s rare before the age of thirty. Between 35 and 60% of cases have a genetic component, but many factors can play a role in the development of the condition.
- Rheumatoid arthritis has a much stronger hereditary component. Researchers have identified specific genes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis that are handed from generation to generation. These genes, known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA), not only increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis but also worsen the severity of the symptoms. Studies show that first-degree relatives of an individual with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop the disorder, so overall, siblings, parents, and children of someone with rheumatoid arthritis are at a slightly higher risk of developing the disorder.
Is arthritis hereditary? Just because you have a genetic predisposition to arthritis, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop the condition. In fact, there are many things you can do to lessen your risk of arthritis.
Risk Factors You Can Control
What can you do to lower your risk of arthritis? Consider taking these steps.
- Lose Weight: Extra body weight places more stress on the large joints like the hips, knees, and ankles. Individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop premature osteoarthritis. Excess weight can also exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you prevent arthritis.
- Address Health Concerns Immediately: Injuries and illness can actually increase your risk of developing arthritis. Unaddressed joint injuries can go on to cause the cartilage to deteriorate faster. Illness can cause joints to become infected with bacteria. Both of these problems are quite serious, so seek medical care immediately if you are injured or ill.
- Stop Smoking: Study after study has shown that smoking creates additional risk for rheumatoid arthritis and can worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Smokers tend to experience more cartilage loss and struggle with joint swelling in a way nonsmokers simply don’t.
- Be Careful at Work: There are certain occupations that involve repetitive squatting and knee bending. That repetitive stress on a single joint creates a risk of developing arthritis later in life. Prevent the problem by using the right equipment and tools at work.
Stop the Pain of Arthritis
Many different kinds of arthritis are influenced by genetics, yet no one gene makes you more susceptible to arthritis. Instead, if you have close family members who suffer from various kinds of arthritis, talk to your healthcare provider about your own risk and what you can do to lower it. Hopefully this answered your question, “is arthritis hereditary?”
Contact us today if you have more questions or are looking to improve your health!