Are you worried about developing arthritis? You’re not alone. This degenerative and still widely misunderstood disease takes many forms. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 types of arthritis, including tendonitis, osteoporosis, and even Lyme disease. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis (source). If you’re wondering how to treat the disease or how to prevent rheumatoid arthritis altogether, scroll down for more information.
How to Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Even without a clear understanding of arthritis, most people can recognize the swollen, painful, and often disfigured fingers and toes associated with RA. That swelling and disfiguration is a result of the body attacking its own tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. The chronic inflammatory disease affects the lining of your body’s joints, which causes painful swelling.
If left untreated, that swelling can result in the erosion of bones and joints, which causes irreversible and painful deformities. This happens when the cartilage between your bones is slowly worn down until the bones are basically grinding against each other. Most often, RA affects smaller joints including those in your feet, wrists, knees, ankles, and elbows. RA can affect much more than your extremities, however; the disease can damage entire body systems including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and even blood vessels. Early detection is the best way to slow or halt the spread of RA.
Can You Prevent It?
Unfortunately, no. Researchers are still working to understand the causes of RA and have not discovered how to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. While some triggers or risk factors have been associated with the autoimmune disease, no clear cause has been identified.
But that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. Spotting symptoms early is key to the management and treatment of RA. And according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are a few ways you can reduce your risk of developing arthritis. Habitual smoking is one factor associated with RA, and unhealthy weight gain and diets have also been linked to forms of arthritis.
One way the American College of Rheumatology recommends lowering your risk of developing arthritis is incorporating low-impact exercises into your daily routine. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all great ways to build muscle strength, which can help protect your bones and reduce pressure on your joints.
What Causes the Disease?
According to an article in the U.S. News & World Report, the two greatest risk factors associated with RA are age and gender. While RA can develop at any age, the article points out that chances of developing the disease increase with age, especially once adults enter their 60s. Regarding gender, RA is nearly three times more prevalent in women than in men. The risk of RA is also greatly increased for those who have a direct relative (a parent, sibling or child) with the disease. Obesity is another factor to consider. Unhealthy weight can put pressure on your bones and joints. It can also reduce your ability to exercise, which is key to maintaining strong bones and balance as you age.
If you’re concerned about RA, want to learn more about its symptoms, or still have questions about how to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Whether you’re dancing or taking daily walks, maintaining an active lifestyle is key to your overall health and mental wellness. That’s part of our focus at Springhouse Village. We’re committed to providing a friendly and healthy atmosphere where our residents can thrive. To learn about the many things we do to support the health and well-being of our residents, contact Springhouse Village today.