Arthritis is a prevalent joint disease with more than 100 variants. The most common symptoms include pain and swelling of the joints. In its more severe forms, the disease impairs joint movement. Arthritis affects people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. However, women and older adults are more likely to have arthritis than other demographics. Statistics show that approximately one out of five Americans are at risk of developing the condition. Even today, medical researchers remain unsure of the exact causes, but there is evidence that genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors all may play a role.
Research shows that people with one or more family members with arthritis have a higher chance of developing the condition than those without a family history. The most important genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis are variations (or mutations) in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes, particularly the HLA-DRB1 gene. Scientists believe the presence of the gene variation makes patients more likely to develop arthritis, but it does not determine whether or not they will get it. Furthermore, many people with arthritis lack this gene variation.
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