published Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Ask A Doctor: Is there a particular age when one might start getting arthritis?

Elizabeth Simpson

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

Q: Is there a particular age when one might start getting arthritis?

A: Arthritis affects joints and tissues that surround the joint. Symptoms include pain, stiffness and sometimes swelling. There are nearly 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause joint pain. Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain conditions can involve the immune system and internal organs. Arthritis can occur at any age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million people ages 18 or older have arthritis, and nearly one in 250 children have a rheumatic condition. The risk of developing arthritis increases with age. Most types are female predominant except for gout, which is more common in men. Some forms, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, have a genetic component. Other risk factors include obesity, previous joint injury, history of an infected joint or occupations that require repetitive motions. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. It is important to talk with your doctor if you develop persistent joint pain, stiffness or swelling.

— Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, Arthritis Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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