Arthritis is a condition which affects many older people, with around 10 million cases in the UK alone. There are several different forms of the condition, over 200 in total, with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The condition primarily causes pain and inflammation in your joints, however the joints affected and other symptoms faced can vary between people.
In today’s post we’ll focus on the causes of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. You can learn more about the condition by reading our in-depth guide, or if you’re more concerned about treatment, we also have an article focusing on your options.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
This is the most common form of the condition, with nearly nine million cases in the UK. This condition causes pain and stiffness in your joints, which can come and go in episodes depending on your activity levels. In more severe cases, the pain and stiffness can be continuous.
With osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones breaks down. This will cause you pain, swelling and problems when moving the affect joints. The area may also become inflamed due to the development of bony growths.
Despite there not being a known exact cause of osteoarthritis, the NHS have outlined some of the common risk factors associated with the condition. They include:
- Age – The older you are, the more chance there is of you developing the condition.
- Joint Injury – If you’ve suffered from joint-related injuries in the past, or if you’re overusing your joint too soon after an injury you could be putting yourself at risk. It’s important to let your injury heal after surgery.
- Joint Pressure – High-intensity, physically demanding jobs can put too much pressure on your joints and increase your Risk. The same can be said for hard, repetitive activities.
- Secondary Arthritis – Osteoarthritis may occur in joints which have already been affected by other conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Obesity – Being overweight puts extra pressure and stress on your joints, particularly your knees and hips. It’s important therefore to try and live a healthy lifestyle and to stick to a balanced diet.
- Family History – This type of arthritis is known to run in families. As of yet, studies have not identified a single gene that is responsible for this.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
If you feel like you’re suffering symptoms of this condition, we advise that you visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects over 400,000 people in the UK, particularly those aged between 40 and 50-years-old. Like osteoarthritis, this form of the arthritis commonly causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints.
This form of the condition is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system attacks the cells that line your joints by mistake – rather than fighting off the infection like normal. This then leads to your joints becoming swollen, painful and stiff. Eventually, the joint, cartilage, tendons and nearby bone can all be damaged by this process.
All of the above, without treatment, can lead to the joint losing its shape and alignment. At present, it’s not currently known what causes the immune system to act in this way. However, there are a few theories and risk factors that have been linked:
- Hormones – Women are three times more likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis than men. This may be because of the hormone oestrogen.
- Smoking – As with several long-term medical conditions, one of the biggest risk factors is smoking.
- Genes – As with osteoarthritis, studies have suggested that this form of the condition can run in families. The risk of inheriting rheumatoid arthritis is still considered to be quite low however, as genes are only believed to play a small role.
- Age – According to Versus Arthritis (VA), around three-quarters of people diagnosed are of working age. Most people are aged between 40 and 60.
- Diet – Some reports have suggested that eating too much red meat and not consuming enough vitamin C could put you at an increased risk.
Learn More about Arthritis
If you’re wanting to learn more about arthritis, please see our in-depth condition guide. Alternatively, we also have articles focusing on the symptoms and the treatments available. For an overall look at medical conditions, we also have our guide to the 20 most common conditions which affect older people.
Having the condition also means that you qualify for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm.
Personal Alarm Details
If you suffer from arthritis we would highly recommend our personal alarm service. If you have pain in your knee and suffer from a fall, you simply press a little help button and our 24-Hour Care Team responds. If you are prone to falling, we would advise upgrading to our fall detector, which automatically detects when the user has fallen and notifies our team.
Remember to use the discount code BLOG2019 when you order a Monthly or Annual Plan to receive £10 off.