What Causes Osteoarthritis and Who Can Develop It

There are several different types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis happens to be the most common type of arthritis. This type of arthritis occurs when there’s wear and tear on the protective cartilage on the ends of bones, and over time it wears down. This lets your bones rub together when you move. The friction that occurs when joints rub together can cause joint pain and stiffness, as well as inflammation, tenderness, and loss of flexibility. While osteoarthritis most common affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, it can also affect the hands, spine, and other joints.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

The actual cause of osteoarthritis is the wear and tear that occurs to the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones. It deteriorates over time. This cartilage is a type of slippery, firm tissue that allows your joints to move smoothly. When this tissue wears away, you have a rough surface that makes it harder to move joints, or it can completely wear away. This can leave bones rubbing together, which can cause pain.

The Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:

  • Obesity – Carrying around extra weight can increase your risk of osteoarthritis. When you weigh more, it puts more stress on your weight-bearing joints. Fat tissue can also produce proteins that can increase inflammation around the joints. Weight loss can reduce your risk.
  • Old Age – Your risk of this type of arthritis goes up as you age.
  • Previous Joint Injuries – If you’ve had previous joint injuries, such as sports injuries or accident injuries, you have a higher risk of osteoarthritis. Your risk is higher, even if it seems these injuries have healed.
  • Genetics – Different genetic traits can make you more likely to develop osteoarthritis as you age. If your parents had the disease, you have a higher risk of developing it yourself.
  • Gender – Studies show that women have a higher risk of developing this type of arthritis.
  • Certain Occupations – Certain occupations that require repetitive motions like kneeling, climbing stairs, squatting, or physical labor can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Knees, hips, and hands are most commonly affected by osteoarthritis that’s occupation-related.
  • Other Health Conditions – Other health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, joint deformities, bone disorders, and some metabolic disorders can result in an increased risk of osteoarthritis.

Since osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, it grows worse over time. Osteoarthritis pain may become severe enough to make it difficult to complete everyday tasks. While there isn’t a cure, many different treatments are available to maintain mobility and relieve pain. Early treatment is essential and means you’ll spend more time enjoying life and less time living with pain.

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