What Are The Causes of Arthritis?

Arthritis is the name for a condition in which one or more of the joints swells and grows tender. Joint stiffness and pain are the main symptoms; these tend to worsen with age. This condition comes in a variety of types, including gout, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, thumb arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and the two most common types, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system strikes at the joints, beginning with their linings. With osteoarthritis, or OA, cartilage breaks down. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers bones at their ends where they form joints. Causes of arthritis vary according to the type that is developed. They include genes, being overweight, overuse, injury, immune system problems, age, sex, and other factors. All of these things can lead to a drastic change in movement and lifestyle- the things we see in our residents at Laurel Parc that create barriers for independent living and demonstrates a need for the extra support that assisted living provides.

Genetic Traits

Your genes can dictate whether or not you are likely to develop arthritis when other conditions are present. OA, for example, can develop when the body has a rare defect in its production of collagen. Cartilage is made up of the protein collagen.

With this abnormality, OA can occur in people as young as twenty years of age. Other traits can be inherited that result in minor defects in the bones and the way they fit together, leading to the more rapid wearing-away of cartilage.


If you are overweight, your likelihood of various types of arthritis can increase. This is one of the causes of arthritis that is more easily controlled. Losing weight will put reduced pressure on the knees and hips. When you have carried extra weight for many years, the cartilage cushioning joints can be forced to break down more rapidly.

Research has also shown a link between obesity and an increase in the chance of developing OA in the hands. Such studies indicate that cytokines, or inflammatory chemicals, are produced by excess fat tissue. These can harm the joints.


Repeated injuries to joints can also lead to OA. Cartilage breakdown is sped up by repetitive damage to joints, ligaments, and tendons. Fractures, surgeries, or tears to the ligaments are potential causes of osteoarthritis, especially for some athletes. An imbalance created by healing can also lead the way to motion that is altered and eventual breaking down of cartilage in the joints.


Just as injury can make OA more likely, using joints too much can also wear away cartilage more quickly. Certain careers are dangerous for those whose genes predispose them to OA. These careers are the ones that include such activities as standing for extended periods of time, bending often and regularly, and heavy lifting.

Faulty Immune System

In the autoimmune disorder rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system sends antibodies to the lining of the joints by mistake. There, they attack the various tissue types that surround the joint. Normally, the antibodies strike at viruses and bacteria.

When you have rheumatoid arthritis, the attacked tissues release chemicals that cause damage to nearby tissue such as bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. The synovium, or thin layer of cells that covers your joints, becomes sore and inflamed and releases these chemicals. When left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis results in the joint losing its alignment and shape, eventually destroying it completely.

Age and Sex

The risk of the two most common types of arthritis increases as you grow older. This is true with many of the types of arthritis. Your sex can also play a role. Women have a higher likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while most sufferers of gout are men.

Knowing the causes of arthritis can be helpful to you so that you are aware of whether or not you are at risk. Knowledge can help you be aware of the symptoms so that you can watch for them and receive diagnosis and treatment as close to the onset as possible. Arthritis is a painful condition that is often treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes, surgery.

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