Knowing the Causes and Risk Factors for Arthritis

Arthritis is a common health problem in the United States, with close to 50 million adults living with the condition. It is also a leading cause of physical disability in America. Arthritis is characterized by pain in the joints and restricted movement as a result. If you have this condition, slight activities such as bending, walking, and stretching can be painful. Arthritis can affect your general productivity and negatively affect your quality of life. Fortunately, your Pittsburgh board certified orthopedic spine surgeon offers treatment to help manage your symptoms and improve joint function.

What is arthritis?

It is a disease that affects the places where your bones meet (joints). Arthritis causes swelling, tenderness, and inflammation of one or more joints. These changes cause pain when you use the affected joint. The most common body areas that that can be affected by arthritis include:

·         Knees

·         Feet

·         Hands

·         Lower back

·         Hips

What causes arthritis?

The causes of arthritis are different for each type of this condition. For example, gout – a kind of arthritis- results from excess uric acid in the body. Below are the causes of the two most common types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


The ends of joints in your body are covered with cartilage – a tough, slick coating that cushions your bones. The cartilage facilitates frictionless or smooth joint movement. Osteoarthritis causes wear and tear damage to the cartilage, causing bones to grind over each other upon motion. The result can be pain, restricted movement, or both. It is an age-related medical problem, as it is prone in older adults. Damage to the cartilage can occur over many years or be accelerated by other factions such as an infection or joint injury. Friction, as a result, alters your bones’ structure and causes deterioration of connective tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes your body’s immune system to attack synovial membranes in the joints. The synovial membrane covers all joint areas to prevent bones from grinding over each other. If the disease advances, it can destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.

Risk factors for arthritis

·         Lifestyle. Habits such as smoking put you at risk for arthritis. Smoking limits blood supply in your bones, which can result in degeneration.

·         Age. Your chances of developing types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis increase with age.

·         Sex. Men are at risk for developing gout, unlike women who are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.

·         Family history. You are at risk of developing certain types of arthritis that run in your family if one of your siblings or parents has the condition.

·         Obesity. Excess body weight exerts added pressure on your joints in your spine, hips, and knees. Obesity increases your risk for arthritis. Losing extra pounds can reduce your risk for arthritis and other health problems, including hypertension and sleep apnea.

·         Previous joint injury. You are more likely to develop arthritis if one or more of your joints was injured during sporting activities like basketball.

Should you want to learn more about the treatment methods for arthritis, book a consultation with your doctor at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center.