Is Arthritis Inherited?
Arthritis is a disease which can create excruciating pain. Unfortunately, an extraordinary number of Americans experience it. More than 40 million of us suffer with some form of arthritis. Many have pain so severe, it limits daily activities. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease and it affects about 16 million Americans; Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition more crippling of the two, affects 2.1 million people.
Whether either of these forms of arthritis is inherited (passed along in families), is still under investigation. Medical experts have some information but its still not conclusive.
OSTEOARTHRITIS: This form of arthritis causes pain and swelling and as a result, reduced motion in joints. Although it can affect any joint the most common locations are hands, knees and hips even the spine. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage, which is the slippery tissue that protects the ends of bones and absorbs the shock of movement, to deteriorate. Thanks to this break down, bones rub together causing pain and over time, it only gets worse.
Although osteoarthritis has long been known to be a result of aging, or injury, medical experts say the disease may also runs in families.
In fact, some studies show that osteoarthritis is occasionally found in multiple member of the same family. Geneticists believe that there may be one or more genetic (heredity) factors involved. According to one study of 481 families -- each of which contained at least one sibling pair with osteoarthritis -- a susceptibility gene was discovered located on something called Chormosome 11q. It was female specific. In fact, its also known that osteoarthritis, which onset is usually after age fifty, develops more frequently (but not exclusively) in women.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: This form of arthritis causes the lining of joints to become inflamed. As the disease progresses, it damages tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone in the joints. It can also damage other areas of the body such as lungs, eyes, and blood vessels. This form of arthritis is actually two to three times more common in women than it is in men and roughly begins between the ages of 40 to 60. At this point, experts are not sure what causes rheumatoid arthritis. But they do know this: the disease causes the bodys own natural defense (immune) system to attack joints.