Arthritis For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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The causes of arthritis are numerous — and some of them are still unknown. Scientists say that the development of joint pain, joint stiffness, and joint swelling can be traced to several contributing factors, including the following:

  • Heredity:Scientists have discovered that the genetic marker HLA-DR4 is linked to rheumatoid arthritis; so, if you happen to have this gene, you're more likely to develop the disease. For example, ankylosing spondylitis is linked to the genetic marker HLA-B27, and although having this gene doesn't mean that you will absolutely get this form of arthritis, you can if conditions are right.
  • Age: It's just a fact of life that the older you get, the more likely you are to develop arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. Like the tires on your car, cartilage can wear down over time, becoming thin, cracked, or even wearing through. Bones may also break down with age, bringing on joint pain and dysfunction.
  • Overuse of a joint: What do ballerinas, baseball pitchers, and tennis players all have in common? A great chance that they'll develop arthritis due to the tremendous repetitive strain they put on their joints. The dancers, who go from flat foot to pointe hundreds of times during a practice session, eventually end up with painful, arthritic ankles. Baseball pitchers, throwing fastballs at speeds of more than 100 mph, regularly develop arthritis of the shoulder and/or elbow. Moreover, you don't need to be a tennis pro to develop tennis elbow, a form of tendonitis that has sidelined many a player.
  • Injury: Sustaining injury to a joint (from a household mishap, a car accident, playing sports, or doing anything else) increases the odds that you can develop arthritis in that joint.
  • Infection: Some forms of arthritis are the result of bacteria, viruses, or fungi that can either cause the disease or trigger it in susceptible people. Lyme disease comes from bacteria transmitted by the bite of a tick. Rheumatoid arthritis may come from a virus that triggers it in people with a certain genetic marker. Infectious arthritis can arise following surgery, trauma, a needle inserted into the joint, bone infection, or an infection that's traveled from another area of the body.
  • Tumor necrosis factor: TNF is a substance the body produces that causes inflammation and may play a part in initiating or maintaining rheumatoid arthritis. Although scientists are unsure exactly what triggers rheumatoid arthritis, they have found that drugs that counteract the effects of TNF, called TNF antagonists, are often helpful in managing the symptoms of this disease.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor are a husband-and-wife writing team living in Los Angeles, California.
Barry Fox, PhD, is the author, coauthor, or ghostwriter of numerous books, including the New York Times number-one bestseller, The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s, 1997). He also wrote its sequel, Maximizing The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s, 1998), as well as The Side Effects Solution (to be published by Broadway Books in 2005), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension (Warner Books, 2003), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines (Warner Books, 2001), Syndrome X (Simon & Schuster, 2000), The 20/30 Fat and Fiber Diet Plan (HarperCollins, 1999), and Cancer Talk (Broadway Books, 1999). His books and over 160 articles covering various aspects of health, business, biography, law, and other topics have been translated into 20 languages.

Nadine Taylor, MS, RD, is the author of Natural Menopause Remedies (Signet, 2004), 25 Natural Ways To Relieve PMS (Contemporary Books, 2002) and Green Tea (Kensington Press, 1998), as well as co-author of Runaway Eating (to be published by Rodale in 2005), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension (Warner Books, 2003), and If You Think You Have An Eating Disorder (Dell, 1998). After a brief stint as head dietitian at the Eating Disorders Unit at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Ms. Taylor lectured on women’s health issues to groups of health professionals throughout the country. She has also written numerous articles on health and nutrition for the popular press.

Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH, is a board-certified internist and a Rheumatology Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her undergraduate education at Stanford University, where she received the Deans’ Award for Academic Achievement and graduated with Honors and Distinction. She completed medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a Humanism in Medicine award from the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey and graduated Alpha Omega Alpha. Dr. Yazdany also studied public health at Harvard University. Her research involves examining health disparities in the care of patients with chronic diseases. This is her first book.

Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor are a husband-and-wife writing team living in Los Angeles, California.
Barry Fox, PhD, is the author, coauthor, or ghostwriter of numerous books, including the New York Times number-one bestseller, The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s, 1997). He also wrote its sequel, Maximizing The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin’s, 1998), as well as The Side Effects Solution (to be published by Broadway Books in 2005), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension (Warner Books, 2003), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines (Warner Books, 2001), Syndrome X (Simon & Schuster, 2000), The 20/30 Fat and Fiber Diet Plan (HarperCollins, 1999), and Cancer Talk (Broadway Books, 1999). His books and over 160 articles covering various aspects of health, business, biography, law, and other topics have been translated into 20 languages.

Nadine Taylor, MS, RD, is the author of Natural Menopause Remedies (Signet, 2004), 25 Natural Ways To Relieve PMS (Contemporary Books, 2002) and Green Tea (Kensington Press, 1998), as well as co-author of Runaway Eating (to be published by Rodale in 2005), What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension (Warner Books, 2003), and If You Think You Have An Eating Disorder (Dell, 1998). After a brief stint as head dietitian at the Eating Disorders Unit at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Ms. Taylor lectured on women’s health issues to groups of health professionals throughout the country. She has also written numerous articles on health and nutrition for the popular press.

Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH, is a board-certified internist and a Rheumatology Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her undergraduate education at Stanford University, where she received the Deans’ Award for Academic Achievement and graduated with Honors and Distinction. She completed medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received a Humanism in Medicine award from the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey and graduated Alpha Omega Alpha. Dr. Yazdany also studied public health at Harvard University. Her research involves examining health disparities in the care of patients with chronic diseases. This is her first book.

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