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Can Arthritis Be Genetic?

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

Though arthritis can affect people of all ages and genders, it is most common among seniors. This debilitating condition causes stiff and painful joints, and the decreasing range of motion can be debilitating. While there are many different causes of arthritis, research suggests that genetics play a significant role. In this article, Palm Desert caregivers discuss what arthritis is and whether or not it is a congenital disorder.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is not a single condition, but rather a term used to describe any general type of joint pain or disease. Arthritis can occur when cartilage degenerates, causing pain as bones rub against each other. Degenerative osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis, often affects elderly people due to the normal wear and tear age puts on joints. Arthritis also occurs when an overactive immune system attacks the joints, leaving them swollen and inflamed. Additionally, a buildup of uric acid can cause arthritis. 

How Do Genes Affect Arthritis?

Several studies have shown that genetics have a significant effect on the likelihood of arthritis, and people who have family members with the disorder are far more likely to inherit it. According to research conducted by Dr. Robert Plenge at Harvard Medical School, individual genes, including the HLA-DRB1 and PTPN22 gene, can greatly increase a person’s chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis at any age. A team from the Osteoarticular and Aging Research Lab has discovered that genes for estrogen and vitamin D influence bone metabolism, and other genes can contain codes that result in the loss of cartilage. Having weak bones and less cartilage make it far more likely for seniors to develop osteoarthritis in their later years. 

An early diagnosis of arthritis can help prevent any irreversible damage to the joints from occurring. With proper treatment, such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication, it is possible to retain joint function and prevent future damage. Additionally, seniors with arthritis can turn to Home Care Assistance to help manage their symptoms with mobility assistance and medication reminders. We also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, and Alzheimer’s care for seniors in Palm Desert. Call us today at 760.345.0001 to schedule a free consultation.