A big question for researchers is how much genetics has to do with risk for arthritis.

More and more they are believing and finding evidence that genetics are involved with the diagnosis of certain types of arthritis.  Some types have more evidence than others.

I’m a believer of genetics being involved with diseases. I am also a big believer in environmental factors and especially personal lifestyle factors effecting disease.  But arthritis is in my family and has been for many generations.  And now here I am starting with arthritis symptoms.  So I’m interested to see what researchers find and to see the progress made through the next few years.  Here are some links to some studies on genetics and arthritis:

Creaky Joints

Arthritis Foundation

As a public health graduate, I love the CDC website.  It’s loaded with information, news, and statistics on every disease you can think of!  Here are some of the statistics I found from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention):

~50 million adults in the US reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis.

In 2007-2009, 50% of adults 65 and older reported an arthritis diagnosis.

Approximately 1 in every 250 children (<18 years) have some form of arthritis

Estimated 25.9% of women report a doctor diagnosed arthritis

Estimated 18.3% of men report doctor diagnosed arthritis

31% of obese Americans report doctor diagnosed arthritis

66% of adults with arthritis are overweight or obese

If women lose as little as 11 pounds, they reduce their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50%

And much more striking statistics….

Some of these blow me away.  Arthritis is a greater problem, both in America and worldwide, than I realized.  I think most people aren’t aware of the intensity of the disease, nor the prevalence of it.

Ronald M. Lawrence and Martin Zucker are doctors and experts on arthritis.  They wrote a book about prevention in 2011. The book is called “Preventing Arthritis: A Holistic Approach to Life Without Pain”.  It has become rather popular and I’ve found it on several different websites, both professional and personal.  Many people have cited it as a resource to helping them in their life. Amazon sells it and so does Alibris and many other online bookstores.  It covers various methods of prevention from exercise and diet to specific yoga exercises. I kind of want to read it!

In an article discussing the purpose of the book, these doctors promote what they teach in the book.  They do it in such a practical and entertaining way while maintaining their credibility and professionalism.  One thing they say is “The bottom line – Become an antiarthritis warrior…and incorporate as many joint-friendly strategies as possible into your lifestyle.”

I look forward to reading this book because they readily admit that the medical world has not done enough research on protecting our bones and joints, and that they honestly don’t know sufficient amount of information to help with arthritis as much as is needed.  So while that research is being done, we can do certain things so as to not ever reach the point of no return and have a disease as debilitating as arthritis.

What?  Heels can actually increase your risk of osteoarthritis?  ‘Tis true! Regularly wearing heels can alter your posture and increase pressure on not only your feet, but all your joints.

The researchers working on this study come from an organization called “Arthritis Research UK” located in the United Kingdom. Funding has been provided for them to research this more thoroughly.  They will hopefully find a way to make heels both safer for our bodies and still maintain the high fashion.  There are several research teams studying it.  Channel Fit has lots of articles with more information.

I’m not much of a heel wearer anyways because of the discomfort.  It is interesting to think of the sacrifices women make to be beautiful.  Heels, yes, I’ll agree that  with reasonable heels, they are beautiful.  But if regularly wearing them (which many women wear heels on a daily basis, depending on their career) makes me more at risk for a disease like arthritis, I’m definitely going to wear them occasionally, but not regularly.

I believe that exercise is the remedy for anything.  As time goes by, there are more and more issues with bones and muscles than in the past.  I think a huge factor in that is the less exercise.  We now have so many conveniences that it’s almost a disfavor to us.  If you think of way back when, we remember that people walked where they needed to go unless it was outrageously far because it was more convenient to walk than to get their horse ready

or whatever. People had crops or gardens and worked outside rather than drive to the store or have pizza delivered to them.  Children ran around outside for fun, rather than sitting on the couch.  There are so many things in today’s world that are “doing us a favor” that we don’t recognize the disservice its doing to our minds and bodies.

Pertaining to Arthritis, exercise is both a preventative measure, but also an important aspect if already diagnosed.  It lessens the risk of arthritis getting more severe and it eases the pain in the long-run.  Some complain that it is painful to exercise, but the simplest forms of exercise will strengthen your bones and muscles and regular, daily activities will get easier and less painful. Most organizations run by arthritis experts express that exercise not only eases pain but it is VITAL to keeping your arthritis under control.

Using lightweight dumbbells on a regular basis is a good way to begin.  Not too much stress and you will feel a difference within weeks.  If you don’t have dumb bells and don’t want to buy some.  Be creative, there are a lot things that work just as well.

In an earlier post, a lot of people commented on juvenile arthritis and that they didn’t know it existed.  So here’s an additional post with more details.  As the title implies, about 300,000 children in America suffer from juvenile arthritis.  Research is still being done and they haven’t pinpointed any causes for children having arthritis.  They have found that genetic combinations may lead to arthritis. The diagnosis is difficult as well and blood tests  can’t tell as much as they can in adults.  But a very thorough physical exam and x-rays or imaging tests can help expert doctors diagnose juvenile arthritis.

Within juvenile arthritis, there are different diagnoses.  These include:

Oligoarthritis

Polyarthritis

Systemic

Enthesitis-related

Learn more about these specific types of Juvenile arthritis diagnoses from the Arthritis Foundation.

I haven’t been officially diagnosed with any form of arthritis, but many teachers and doctors have suspected a mild form of it since I was about 12 years old.  The impact this had on me was minor because it wasn’t severe at all.  But there were things that were hard.  I played basketball in high school and had to quit my junior year because of knee problems.  I ran cross country and had to ice both my knees and hips after every hard practice or race.  When traveling, I had to and still have to sit in a place where my knees can stretch out every hour or so.  Since the age of 12 I haven’t been able to squat, so even tying my shoe is difficult without going to my knee.  These are all small examples that I’ve had to adapt to, which aren’t horrible.  But try to imagine a child of 8 years old struggling in a physical education class or a child who has severe problems with her hands and can’t learn cursive because of it.  This disease can really affect a child emotionally.  There are websites that share stories of children and give ideas of how they have dealt with their disease.

1 in 5 Americans live with arthritis symptoms.  Scientists are still researching ways to both prevent and hopefully one day cure arthritis symptoms.  With the knowledge we have now, arthritis is irreversible and many of its causes are still unknown. Researchers are working to find new drugs and therapies to ease arthritis pain.  The Arthritis National Research Foundation says that “aspirin will never be the cure for arthritis.” So they receive governmental grants to fund some of their research.  They also accept donations in several different forms.  You can donate online participate in events likes races and other fundraisers.

I love learning about organizations that have an ambitious purpose.  These people are driven and are furthering our knowledge of arthritis treatment.

Translating Science into Cures… from Arthritis National Research Fnd. on Vimeo.