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Arthritis Causes and Risk Factors
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes the various forms of arthritis. They are studying risk factors to determine why some people develop the disease and others do not.
Scientists have some understanding of the factors that cause osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. These are the three most common forms of arthritis among older adults.
Causes and Risk Factors - Osteoarthritis
Researchers suspect that osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of factors in the body and the environment. The chance of developing osteoarthritis increases with age. By age 65, half of the population has x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint, most often in the hips, knees, or fingers.
Osteoarthritis often results from years of wear and tear on joints. This wear and tear mostly affects the cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage begins to fray, wear away, and decay.
Putting too much stress on a joint that has been previously injured, improper alignment of joints, and excess weight all may lead to the development of osteoarthritis.
Causes and Risk Factors - Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis results from the interaction of many factors such as genes, hormones, and the environment. Research suggests that a person's genetic makeup is an important part of the picture, but not the whole story.
Some evidence shows that infectious agents, such as viruses and bacteria, may trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with an inherited tendency to develop the disease. However, a specific agent or agents are not yet known.
It is important to note that rheumatoid arthritis is not contagious. A person cannot catch it from someone else.
Causes and Risk Factors - Gout
Researchers have discovered some of the risk factors for gout. Up to 8 percent of people with gout have a family history of the disease. In addition to inherited traits, diet, weight, and alcohol play a role in the development of gout. The disease is more common in men.
Most people with gout have too much uric acid in their blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. The extra uric acid moves from the blood to the joints, which may trigger the inflammation seen in gout.
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- Arthritis Defined
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- Arthritis Treatment and Research
- Arthritis Frequently Asked Questions
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- Living with Gout [4 min 14 sec]
- Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis [3 min 21 sec]
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The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
Copyright Information: Public domain information with acknowledgement given to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Directory:Tell Me About Senior Health Arthritis