Is It Inevitable to Get Arthritis as I Get Older?

Is It Inevitable to Get Arthritis as I Get Older?

You may remember a parent or grandparent talking about their arthritis pain. Perhaps you recall how stiff their fingers were or how long it took them to get up out of a chair. You may be wondering if you’ll develop the same condition. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons with Coastal Empire Orthopedics are the experts you want to see if you suspect you’re developing osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. We get to the root of your pain and other troubling symptoms quickly and start you on a course of treatment to help you regain your quality of life. 

How many people develop arthritis?

Your joints have cartilage, which is a tough tissue that forms a protective cushion at the ends of your bones. Much of the cartilage wears away in some people, and painful friction develops in the joints. This is the defining characteristic of osteoarthritis, the most common kind of arthritis. Almost three-quarters of people over age 65 have osteoarthritis as determined by X-rays, but not all of those individuals have symptoms. Only about one percent of the population has rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s more common in women than in men. 

What causes arthritis? 

Why many individuals have arthritis, but some people never get it, and others who do have evidence of it from X-rays don’t have symptoms, are still unanswered questions in the medical community. 

Aging is associated with osteoarthritis, but researchers now believe it’s an inflammatory condition due to evidence of increased production of cytokines, a protein that controls your body’s inflammatory response. Rheumatoid arthritis has long been known as an inflammatory autoimmune disease that harms the joints. Researchers believe it results from genetic and environmental factors. 

Risk factors for osteoarthritis

Following are risk factors for developing osteoarthritis. While some of them can’t be changed, others are lifestyle choices that you can modify to help control painful symptoms. 


An unfortunate result of normal aging is cartilage deterioration. Your body can’t repair tissue like it did in your teens and 20s. The millions of miles you’ve walked, ran, danced and played sports over your lifetime have yielded some amount of wear and tear on your joints. 

Trauma from injury

If you’ve had a sports injury or have been injured in another type of accident, your doctor likely told you that you might develop arthritis as you get older. The injury damaged your joint’s surface. Scar tissue isn’t as elastic as your original tissue, which can constrict movement. 


If you contracted an infection from a previous surgery or get septic arthritis from a germ that moves through your blood into your joint, it’s likely to deteriorate the cartilage around the joint. 


If close family members had arthritis, you’re more likely to develop it. Specific gene variants may be culprits in arthritis that’s inherited. The more variants you have, the more at risk you may be. Heritability seems to be most prominent in spinal arthritis and hip arthritis. 


If you’re significantly overweight or obese, you’re putting undue stress on your joints — especially your hip and knee joints. This can lead to inflammation that damages your cartilage and eventually produces arthritis. Getting your weight under control can help ease symptoms of arthritis. 

Repetitive motions from work or sports

Manual labor and other jobs or activities that involve repetitive motion of a joint (for example, musicians, carpenters, painters, athletes) make you more prone to developing osteoarthritis because of overuse leading to excess wear and tear on your joints. 

Treatment of arthritis

Your Coastal Empire Orthopedics physician can provide prescription-strength pain relievers if you need them for certain periods. Rheumatoid arthritis responds to a certain class of drugs.

A steroid injection may be appropriate for your pain. We may decide that viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid will help you move more easily. Physical therapy helps you regain range of motion and flexibility in your joints. Your physician lets you know if the time has come for a joint replacement. 

Call or book an appointment online today with Coastal Empire Orthopedics for expert arthritis care and treatment of all of your musculoskeletal conditions. 

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