1. Arthritis affects women more than men
According to CDC data, almost 53 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and it occurs at a significantly higher rate in women than in men. By the year 2030, an estimated 67 million adults will have arthritis and two-third will be women, according to government data. Potential explanations include women having weaker cartilage and tendons or a link with estrogen.
2. Rheumatoid arthritis is inherited
It seems that many people who develop RA inherited their susceptibility to the disease. Several different genes probably determine whether someone will have a tendency to develop RA and how severe his or her disease will be. As you might expect, these tend to be genes that control the immune system.
3. There are more than 100 types of arthritis
Here are some of the most common:
Osteoarthritis (OA) is by far the most common type of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, and usually affects many joints in the body. Fibromyalgia’s main features are severe and widespread muscle pain that is most pronounced in the neck and shoulders, extreme fatigue and—in most cases—poor sleep. Fibromyalgia can feel like a joint disease, but the pain actually occurs in nearby muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammation of the spine, and is mainly a disease of young people, often beginning before age 20 and rarely affecting people over 40.
Systematic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is a chronic disease that usually inflames the joints—and also affects the skin, kidneys, blood vessels, nervous system and virtually every other organ in the body.
Other types of arthritis include:
• Reiter’s syndrome
• Psoriatic arthritis
• Lyme arthritis
4. Drinking tea could lower your risk
One study presented at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology confirmed tea’s arthritis-taming benefits: Older women who consumed three or more cups a day had a 60 percent lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than other women. Just as remarkable: a related finding that women who drank four or more cups of decaffeinated coffee a day appeared to double their risk of developing RA.
5. Being overweight increases your risk
Piling on extra pounds is now recognized as a major cause of osteoarthritis. And judging by recent surveys showing that more than half of all North Americans are overweight, it may be the most important cause of all. In particular, obesity can cause OA of the weight-bearing joints—the knees, and to a lesser extent, the hips. But it is also associated with a greater risk of OA in other joints as well, including the back, ankles, big toes and hands.