Arthritis is unfortunately common. Preventing it is complicated because there are multiple types.  Most of us think of arthritis in two categories:  genetic or environmental (what we do).  I recommend reviewing the Arthritis Foundation‘s website for more info on the types of arthritis and general information. There are things within our power to decrease the potential for getting arthritis from environmental factors.

For instance, osteoarthritis can be thought of as parts wearing out in a machine. The part in any machine that gets the most wear and tear is the most likely to wear out the soonest. So repetitive tasks done over a lifetime will start to wear out. Examples are if you work on your hands and knees for a job for 30 years you will have worn out knee cartilage and joint pain in your sixties, high level football players will have degenerative changes in their spines in there fifties. Giving an age is only because that is when our body has had enough time to put a lot of miles on those joints. Certain activities will wear them out sooner than they would if you did not do those activities.

Some people will not have joint problems in their sixties or seventies or eighties. In some people only certain joints wear out, this all has to do with environmental wear and tear. Basically it comes down to what you do and how often you do it over the course of the lifespan. Muscle strength plays a role in supporting joints so strength will help protect the joints. Physical activity helps protect joints because it keeps the joint lubricated and maintains a high level of exchange and tissue healing. Too much weight causes excessive forces to the joints and will wear them out sooner. Too much of a specific kind of activity over a LONG period of time will cause joint damage.

So if you are asking yourself, “Am I likely to have osteoarthritis?” (the wear-and-tear kind of arthritis), then consider:  at what age you started the activity in question, how repetitive it is, and how long you have done or plan on doing it.