Arthritis is a very common joint condition, affecting 24% of American adults. You probably know at least one person who has it, and if that person is your parent, grandparent, or sibling, you may wonder if an arthritis diagnosis is inevitable for you, too.
Some types of arthritis can run in families, but having a family history of arthritis doesn’t mean you’re certain to develop the condition. In fact, your risk of developing arthritis may be higher based on other factors, such as your body weight, sex, or medical history.
So, what is the likelihood that you’ll develop arthritis? In this blog, Kristopher Downing, MD, & James Andry, MD at Upper Extremity Specialists, of Ortho 1 Medical Group, answer your questions.
We specialize in nonoperative orthopedic arthritis care at our practices in Chula Vista and La Jolla, California, so read on to learn about your risk of inheriting arthritis and what you can do about it.
Family history and your risk of developing arthritis
There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Some types have genetic components, which means you can inherit certain genes that may make developing arthritis more likely. However, the exact links between heredity and arthritis aren’t clearly understood.
For example, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It’s primarily caused by wear and tear on joints, but up to 65% of OA cases have genetic components, too. Some people have certain gene mutations that affect the collagen in their joints, which can increase joint deterioration and make arthritis symptoms worse.
You may have a higher risk of developing arthritis if a family member has it, but genetics alone rarely causes arthritis. Other factors that can increase your risk of developing arthritis include:
- Older age
- Being female
- Being overweight or obese
- History of joint injury
- Repetitive motions at work or in hobbies
Joints naturally wear down with years of use. Excess body weight, previous injury, and repetitive movements can all accelerate deterioration, which may increase your risk of developing arthritis, whether or not you have a family history of it.
How to recognize the early signs of arthritis
Arthritis is a degenerative condition. Once a joint begins deteriorating, it keeps getting worse without proper treatment. Since arthritis gets more common with age, it’s important to learn early warning signs, so you can get the treatment you need.
The first sign of arthritis is usually joint pain. You might notice that your joint is stiff or sore when you wake up in the morning or after a period of rest. Your joint may be swollen or red, particularly after activity.
Osteoarthritis often starts in large, weight-bearing joints, such as your hips or knees, but it can appear in almost any joint, including your wrists and hands. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common type, and it causes symmetrical pain. That means if your right thumb is tender and painful, your left thumb will be, too.
If you notice joint pain, schedule an arthritis evaluation. If you have a family history of arthritis, talk with Dr. Downing and our team about your risk. You may be a candidate for early intervention and treatment.
To learn more about preventing or treating arthritis, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.