If there is one thing that everyone understands about arthritis, it is that the condition can produce significant pain. From rheumatoid arthritis to osteoarthritis, every variation comes with its own level of discomfort. However, there are some arthritis patients who will experience the pain of their condition more severely than others. Why is this the case? While the answer certainly has complexities that are not yet understood, there are some specific patient characteristics that can be identified as contributors, including the following:
Arthritis Pain and Age
While arthritis can occur in patients of any age, it is most frequently observed in older patients, with nearly half of Americans over the age of 65 having been diagnosed. Likewise, it would seem that this group of patients is also more susceptible to the pain of arthritis. Of arthritis sufferers in this age range, nearly three-quarters report chronic pain. Research on the connection suggests that physiological, biochemical, and anatomical changes that happen with age are responsible for increased pain sensitivity among seniors.
Arthritis Pain and Gender
While both men and women experience pain, women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and associated conditions. For instance, as many as 90 percent of all cases of fibromyalgia, a disorder hallmarked by chronic, widespread pain throughout the body, are diagnosed in women. It is believed that sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, and their varying levels play a large role in this heightened pain sensitivity.
Arthritis Pain and Other Health Conditions
Most chronic health conditions do not occur alone. In the case of arthritis, patients may also suffer from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or a number of other health concerns. Each condition will come with its own symptoms or side effects, and in many cases, pain is among them. Over time, these added pain signals serve to heighten sensitivity and reduce tolerance, a phenomenon that is likely to worsen as the conditions progress.
Arthritis Pain and Genetics
Genetics play an important role in nearly all components of health, including pain. Research into the connection still has a long way to go. However, there have already been a number of variations identified in connection with pain sensitivity and the development of chronic pain disorders. In other words, not only can your genes make you more likely to develop arthritis, they can also make you more likely to experience pain from the condition.
Fortunately, the pain and stiffness of arthritis do not have to be a given no matter your age, gender, medical history, or genetic predisposition. There is a wide range of proven treatment options available to help improve symptoms and limit the overall impact of arthritis. And, new arthritis treatments continue to be explored.
To learn more about arthritis and how you may be able to minimize bothersome symptoms, contact Bone & Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge. Our physicians are skilled in the management of all forms of arthritis and can help you develop an individualized course of treatment based on your specific needs.