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Arthritis creeps up on you. One day you’re happily living an active lifestyle with no complaints, and then suddenly, you notice unfamiliar aches and pains. Sometimes they come and go, and you probably chalk it up to over-exertion and ignore it. Until eventually, the pain persists.

At this point, you probably go see a doctor who then informs you that unfortunately, you have some form of arthritis—and all you can do now is to manage the symptoms as best as you can.

You look back and wonder…were there signs that I should have noticed? Was there anything I could’ve done sooner? And if there was, could I have prevented my diagnosis?

A new study by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas believes that popping, cracking and grating sounds around your joints are predictors of arthritis.

The research involved 3,495 participants among the 50-70 age group. The long term study, spanning three years, involved subjects from Rhode Island, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and none had symptomatic arthritis when the study started.

By the end of the study, among subjects who had no knee pain but had noisy knee joints, three quarters ended up developing symptoms of arthritis.

“Many people who have signs of osteoarthritis on X-rays do not necessarily complain about pain. Presently, there are no known strategies for preventing the development of pain in this group,” said lead study author Grace Lo of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

This led researchers to conclude that people with crepitus (noisy, cracking and popping knee joints) raises the likelihood of developing arthritis threefold, versus those who have never had it.

You can read more about the study in this article published by Reuters, here.  But the real significance of the study is this: learning to recognize critical signs that could potentially predict the development of symptomatic arthritis may give patients and medical practitioners the opportunity to intervene with early treatment and prevention.

Supporting research and similar studies will be needed to validate such conclusions, however this study demonstrates progress in the field of arthritis research. In the meantime, keep the following in mind:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for joint health, so be sure to eat healthy.
  • Learn all you can about the disease. To start, you can check out these blogs—each one offers a unique take on how to manage the disease and helps you stay up to date with the latest news about arthritis treatments and studies.
  • Be prepared for the emotional and mental toll, in addition to the physical challenges, of the condition.
  • Stay open to the idea of using tools and aids to make your life easier post diagnosis.

And finally,

  • Remember that you are not dealing with the challenges of arthritis alone.
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