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Arthritis is an informal way of referring to more than 100 different types of joint diseases. According to the Arthritis Foundation:

  • arthritis affects 53 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States
  • people of all ages, sexes and races can suffer from arthritis
  • it is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older

Arthritis can be broken down into three main categories. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most frequently diagnosed form of arthritis. It is also called degenerative joint disease and occurs when the cartilage inside a joint deteriorates. It most commonly affects the knees, hips, low back, neck and hands.
  1. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when the lining inside the joints becomes inflamed causing joint damage and pain. It occurs in small joints like the wrists, fingers and hands.
  1. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is any type of arthritis that strikes a person younger than 18. It typically strikes the ankles, knees, wrists, hips, neck, jaw and shoulders.

Symptoms of arthritis

Typical symptoms of arthritis include joint:

  • Pain and stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

7 risk factors

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists seven risk factors for the disease, including:

  1. Family history—specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis.
  2. Age—the risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age.
  3. Gender—60 percent of all people with arthritis are women.
  4. Previous joint injury—damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in that joint.
  5. Obesity—excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
  6. Infection—many microbial agents can infect joints and potentially cause the development of arthritis.
  7. Occupation—jobs that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.

6 tips to reduce your risk

There is no way to actually prevent arthritis, but you can reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. The key is taking care of your joints now while they are healthy.

  1. Maintain a good body weight—the more pressure you put on your joints, the faster they wear out. Maintaining a good body weight is one thing you can do to lower the workload for your joints.
  1. Women: take off your high heels—they are okay to wear occasionally, but if you wear them all the time the joints in your feet will make you pay the price.
  1. Do non-impact exercises—high impact sports like running put a lot of stress on the joints and can wear down the cartilage faster than normal. Think about taking up swimming or biking.
  1. Use good body mechanics and avoid injuries—lift with your legs instead of your back, take precautions when playing sports to avoid injury.
  1. Check your vitamin D—according to the National Institutes of Health about 60 percent of us are deficient in vitamin D. Ask your doctor about the right dosage for you.
  1. Stay hydrated—the cartilage in our joints is made up mostly of water, which is what makes it such a great cushion for the joints. When we’re dehydrated, water gets sucked out of the cartilage and it’s more easily damaged by wear and tear.

Staying healthy and preventing chronic conditions like arthritis is a little easier with help.

Consider signing up for CarePlus—a free concierge health care service. When you sign up for CarePlus our team will help you:

  • find the right doctor
  • get appointments quickly
  • get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
  • obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
  • get your insurance questions answered