Arthritis is inflammation and pain that develops around a joint. Commonly affected joints include hands, spine, knees and hips.
There is no single answer for what causes arthritis, but there are factors that may increase your risk of developing the condition.
Previous injury, infection, smoking, and occupations which are very physically demanding, are just some of the risk factors listed by Arthritis Research UK.
For decades, it’s been taught clicking or cracking your fingers or knuckles can also lead to arthritis. But is this just a myth, and what do experts have to say?
Harvard Health says cracking your knuckles may aggravate the people around you, but it probably won’t raise your risk for arthritis.
It says: “That’s the conclusion of several studies that compared rates of hand arthritis among habitual knuckle-crackers and people who didn’t crack their knuckles.”
The Harvard Medical School publishing body explains the “pop” of a cracked knuckle is caused by bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid – the fluid that helps lubricate joints.
The bubbles pop when you pull the bones apart, either by stretching the fingers or bending them backward, creating negative pressure.
It adds on its website: “One study’s authors compared the sudden, vibratory energy produced during knuckle cracking to ‘the forces responsible for the destruction of hydraulic blades and ship propellers.”
“Even if knuckle cracking doesn’t cause arthritis, there’s still good reason to let go of the habit.
“Chronic knuckle-crackers were more likely to have swollen hands and reduced grip strength.
“And there are at least two published reports of injuries suffered while people were trying to crack their knuckles.”
So how can you prevent rheumatoid arthritis?
There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis Foundation advises that to prevent rheumatoid arthritis you should not smoke.
Osteoarthritis, another comment type of arthritis, can be prevented by keeping a healthy weight.
You can also reduce the risk of gout by eating a healthy diet, low in sugar, and alcohol.
There’s no cure for arthritis, but the NHS lists prescribed medications under treatment, which includes painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids.
Some health experts recommend more natural remedies to ease arthritis pain, such simple changes to diet, as well as exercise.