Pain from arthritis can strike earlier than you think. Here’s what every woman needs to know about arthritis symptoms, natural remedies, safe exercise, and more.
1. Arthritis is just achy joints, right?
Yes, essentially. Arthritis literally means “inflammation of a joint”—the place where two bones connect, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. More than 100 different types of arthritis exist, but osteoarthritis, which we’ll address in this article, is the most common, affecting nearly 27 million Americans, almost 60 percent of whom are women.
Cartilage—the slippery tissue that protects the ends of your bones in the joint—gradually wears down in osteoarthritis. This can leave you feeling stiff and old lady-ish when you climb out of bed or your knees can feel achier than usual after you work out. Nobody knows exactly what causes this cartilage breakdown, but a combination of factors like genetic tendencies, aging, joint injuries, and obesity, are all thought to play a role, said the Mayo Clinic.
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2. Wait, what’s rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis, known as RA, is the other most common type. The end result is the same—stiff, achy joints—but rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system attacks its own joints, causing their lining to swell and hurt. RA is almost three times more likely to strike women than men, and it tends to first occur between ages 25 and 50. Regular arthritis tends to most affect weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips; whereas rheumatoid arthritis more often impacts the entire body: both large and small joints as well as other organs.
We’re focusing primarily on osteoarthritis in this article. Read the article linked above for more information on rheumatoid arthritis—including RA causes, symptoms, treatments, and natural remedies.
3. I’m 39! Could I really have arthritis?