What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation in the joints and can affect people of all ages, not just older people. When you suffer from arthritis, minor injuries can trigger the body’s healing process. This can cause a build-up of fluid inside the joint and lead to swelling. There are thought to be around 10 million people who have some form of arthritis in the UK.1

There are many different causes of arthritis and the following factors may be important;2

  • Being over 50
  • Being overweight
  • Injuries
  • Family history of arthritis


Arthritis in older people

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means your body attacks the lining of a joint as though it is trying to protect you from an injury or disease. This causes joints to become inflamed. Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the UK and millions of adults including half of all people age 65 and older suffer from arthritis.3

 Arthritis in older people may be managed by taking key lifestyle changes including regular exercise (for example swimming). It is recommended that you exercise little and often, instead of overworking your joints.4 Maintaining a healthy diet may also help with your general health and well-being.

What causes arthritis

Arthritis caused by being overweight

Did you know that being just 10 pounds overweight can put an extra 15-50 pounds of pressure on your knees? This means you are more likely to develop arthritis over time. Excess fat can also speed up the destruction of cartilage.5

Maintaining a healthy weight can mean better joint function as well as giving you more energy to stay active and exercise regularly.6

Arthritis caused by injuries

Arthritis can sometimes be caused by previous injuries, sometimes known as post-traumatic arthritis (PTA). This develops after an acute direct trauma (injury) to the joints.7

PTA can sometimes be managed with ice and heat therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines or physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend other lifestyle changes such as regular exercise or weight loss.8

Family history of arthritis and joint pain

Having a family history of arthritis is a very high-risk factor for developing an arthritic condition, and is thought to not differ by sex, even though arthritis is typically more common in women than in men.9 People who have a first-degree relative (e.g. a parent, child or sibling) who suffers from arthritis are more likely to develop the condition themselves.10

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