Ask The Experts- July 2021

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: July 14, 2021

Dear Red Hot Mamas,

My mother and grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis. Can you please tell me a little about the causes of rheumatoid arthritis? I am grateful for this information and all you do to help women. Thank you.


Dear Judith:

Thank you for the compliment about Red Hot Mamas and writing to us. In response to your question, there are many causes of arthritis. Some of these causes include:

Heredity: As with many diseases rheumatoid arthritis can run in families. If you have a parent or sibling with rheumatoid arthritis, your risk of developing the disease is 3 to 5 times greater than the general population. There is a genetic marker HLA-DR4 which is linked to rheumatoid arthritis. If you have this gene, you are more likely to develop the disease. But genes are not the only part in the development of this disease.

Age: While rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, the onset of symptoms usually begin between the ages of 40 and 60. It’s a fact that the older you get, the more your risk increases.

Your Gender: Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to get rheumatoid arthritis.

Lifestyle Factors:

Cigarette smoking is thought to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Not only does smoking increase your risk of getting this disease, but it also accelerates the progression of symptoms.

Obesity or Being Overweight: If you are overweight or obese, the excess adds stress to the affected joints resulting in greater loss of mobility and pain. It is important to eat a balanced and varied diet and keep your weight within healthy levels. Try to be as active as possible and exercise regularly. But first consult with your healthcare provider and always work within your limits to not harm your muscles or your joints.

Physical and Emotional Stress: This can cause sudden worsening of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Infections: Some infections may cause immune activation. For instance bacteria, or viruses can trigger this disease in susceptible people.

If necessary, it is important for you make lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk of getting the disease. And, discuss with your healthcare provider treatment options for the management of the disease.

Some resources for additional information are:

American College of Rheumatology

The Arthritis Foundation