Over 300,000 children have arthritis. Over 50 million adults do as well. It is the #1 cause of disability in the United States.
What causes arthritis?
Arthritis is caused when the cartilage in your joints is reduced. As we age with normal usage, the cartilage is worn down. In addition, injury or infections can speed the reduction of cartilage and the onset of arthritis. This type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis. Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. However, this form is an autoimmune disorder. Your own body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect the synovium, a soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.1
It’s heartbreaking to think that children can have arthritis. It can affect children of all ages. A dear friend of mine was struck with the disease when she was 7. She was crippled by the disease and remains wheelchair-bound 30 years later. About 1 child in every 1,000 develops some type of chronic arthritis. These disorders can affect children at any age, although rarely in the first six months of life.2 The good news is juvenile arthritis in some forms can be treated and it is even possible to go into remission. Unfortunately, the cause of JA is not known. Research has not been conclusive that food or other toxins can contribute to the onset of the disease. Research has found that it could possibly be tied to either parent or a combination of genes. Some cases of JA may be temporary while other cases could be lifelong.
Adult Arthritis – Hereditary
Unfortunately, as we all probably know someone with arthritis, that it is hereditary. My mother and my grandmother have the disease. They have enlarged knuckles and their joints ache any time the weather changes. Therefore, I also have the onset of arthritis. The arm I broke years ago aches when the barometric pressure changes. Arthritis can be hereditary. There are over 100 types of arthritis.
Combatting the disease
Three components that help us all are critical when a disease affects our quality of life. The three components are exercise, eating well, and self-care. Due to the disease, an additional component of an effective treatment plan must be added. Light physical activity can be the beginning of reducing the joint stiffness and pain that comes from arthritis. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day, like walking, to improve the issues that surround the disease. They suggest if the 30 minutes cannot be performed all at once, to break the 30 minutes into 10 minute quick breaks.3 The goal is to get moving. The joints get stiff from being immobile. Medication can and may be taken to reduce the severity of the pain as well. Eating well means reducing the number of processed foods and increasing the amount of unprocessed food.
What can you do to help?
For involvement and support of Juvenile and Adult Arthritis, below is a list of organizations that are focused on improving the quality of life for each person affected.
Juvenile Arthritis Association
Arthritis National Research Foundation
Rheumatology Research Foundation
Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation
If you have a foundation that we do not have listed on our short list, please share!