The Causes of Arthritis
Many people think of arthritis as a single disease, and a disease of the elderly, but in fact there are many different forms of arthritis which can strike at different times of life. Accordingly, there are many different causes of arthritis. Most of these are beyond our control, but a better understanding of the causes of arthritis can help us all to minimise our chances of developing the condition and to minimise its impact if and when it does occur.
The word 'arthritis' simply means 'joint swelling', and most people will experience it at some form in life. For many, the first experience of such problems will come from a sports injury. Repeated exercise, putting too much strain on a joint, can cause arthritis type symptoms. Whilst it's easy to think of this as a short term problem, one which will go away after a couple of weeks of rest, incautious exercise can set people up for more severe arthritis later in life. Regular jogging on a hard surface such as a tarmac road is thought to be among the causes of osteoarthritis, where cartilage wears away and bones rub together painfully. Any form of high impact exercise, if taken to excess, can contribute to the risk of arthritis.
Many forms of arthritis are caused by problems with the immune system, whereby the body is allergic to its own tissue, causing swelling and, sometimes, more severe forms of damage. Among the causes of this type of arthritis are inherited factors, exposure to pollutants, and exposure to allergens. People with a family history of arthritis and people who already suffer from mild forms of arthritis can reduce the risks by avoiding things which they may be allergic to. This means thinking carefully about clothing, jewellery, diet and personal hygiene. Also among the causes of arthritis are diets high in protein and low in fresh fruit and vegetables. High alcohol consumption is also thought to be a factor in causing some forms of arthritis.
One aspect of arthritis which many people find particularly troubling is the painful build-up of fluid of joints. The causes of this include high-impact exercise and, conversely, too little exercise. Keeping active and mobile reduces the risk of severe arthritis developing in this way. This is one reason why elderly people, who usually get less exercise, are at a high risk of developing arthritis.
Although there are hereditary factors amongst the causes of arthritis, people with arthritis will not necessarily pass it on to their children. In most cases, the risk of this occurring is not thought to be more than about fifteen percent. The causes of arthritis are thought to include levels of hormones in the womb whilst a baby is gestating, but these don't necessarily have anything to do with genes. Similarly, hormone fluctuations at puberty and later in life (due to processes like fertility treatment) may be among the causes of arthritis.
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