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General Medical Questions
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Question : Arthritis runs in my family. Is there any proven way to prevent it?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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February 20, 2014
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You may be able to lower your risk for some of the most common types of arthritis. Here's how:

  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. So not smoking may cut your risk.
  • Improve your oral health. Gum inflammation (gingivitis) caused by certain bacteria has been linked to many health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (though we don't know why). Good oral hygiene and regular dental care may lower the risk.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. It’s also the most common reason for knee and hip replacements. Osteoarthritis becomes more common with age and tends to run in families. But millions of cases might be prevented by avoiding excessive weight gain.
  • Avoid trauma. Injury also increases the risk of osteoarthritis. So avoiding injury may prevent some cases of it. Here are some ways to avoid injury:
    • Proper athletic training
    • Proper athletic technique
    • Not taking unnecessary risks at work or at play

If you do begin having joint pain, see your doctor. It’s especially important if you also have joint swelling or can’t do things the way you used to. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in your future joint health.

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