10 facts about arthritis: symptoms, risk factors, treatments & more

women knee ache from arthritis

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. And the condition, which causes pain and stiffness around the joints, can affect people earlier in life than you might expect.

In Tennessee, 45% of people diagnosed with arthritis are under age 55.

“Arthritis symptoms include pain, inflammation, redness and swelling,” says Dr. Sharon Moore-Caldwell, a medical director for BlueCare Tennessee. “You see arthritis most often in the wrists, knees and ankles, but it can affect any joint. If you have pain or swelling in your joints for more than a few weeks, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care physician.”

10 facts about arthritis

  1. The most common form of arthritis in the U.S. is osteoarthritis. The degenerative disease occurs when cushions in your joints wear away, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Often, the first sign of osteoarthritis is bulging finger joints.
  1. Other common forms of joint and bone pain are rheumatoid arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own joints and tissues. RA is symmetric, meaning it typically affects the same areas on the right and left sides of the body.
  • Gout is a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in joints (often the big toe).
  • Fibromyalgia is the most common cause of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain. It’s often accompanied by fatigue and difficulty with memory and mood, but not with inflammation.
  1. Modifiable risk factors for arthritis include being overweight; smoking and working in occupations that require squatting; or having joint injuries, bacterial or viral infections.
  2. Other risk factors include age, genetics and sex.
  3. Females are more likely to develop most types of arthritis with the exception of gout.
  4. Juvenile arthritis can affect children as young as 1 year old. Symptoms include a high, spiking fever, pain, rash and decreased mobility.
  5. People with certain types of arthritis (RA, lupus) are more likely to experience complications from the flu.
  6. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
  7. The 4 states with the highest prevalence of arthritis are Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee.
  8. Arthritis doesn’t have a cure, but it can be well managed using exercise, physical therapy, medication and stress reduction with the help of a health care provider.

More about arthritis on WellTuned

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

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Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).