7 Things You Don’t Know About Arthritis

More than 50 million adults in the US are living with arthritis, which amounts to about one in five people who are old enough to vote. Despite its prevalence, misconceptions and myths about the condition are rampant. The trouble is, what you don’t know can (literally) hurt you, especially if you delay seeing a doctor or don’t take steps to protect yourself. What follows are seven things you don’t know about arthritis but should.

“Arthritis” includes more than 100 types of joint problems:

It’s really an umbrella term for many different conditions. “There are two big categories—degenerative arthritis, which is essentially wear and tear on the joints, and inflammatory arthritis, which involves inflammation around the joint that causes damage,” explains rheumatologist Eric Ruderman, MD, a professor of medicine at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. He explains that although there are different risk factors for each type, both genetics and your environment usually play a role.

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