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Causes and Risk Factors Of Osteoarthritis

- 27th October 2016

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease mainly affecting your joints such as hips, knees, and ankles. It occurs when the protective cartilage or cushion on the end of the bones wears out. A healthy cartilage helps the bones to glide over each other and absorbs the shock of movement. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears out causing the bones to rub together resulting in pain, swelling, and loss of motion. If the condition is not treated on time, you may end up with permanent bone or joint damage.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting millions of people worldwide. People who suffer from osteoarthritis have joint pains and reduced movement of hands and legs. Most of the people complain of joint stiffness, especially in the morning and after resting. Osteoarthritis, unlike other forms of arthritis, does not affect the internal organs, it affects only the joints; mainly the joints of your hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Causes and Risk factors

The exact cause of osteoarthritis is not known, but it is believed to be caused by the wear and tear of the joints over time. Several factors can cause or increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. They include:


The osteoarthritis risk increases with age. Younger adults and older adults have common symptoms such as morning joint stiffness, aching pain, tender joints, and limited range of motion. Younger adults are more likely to develop arthritis that results from trauma.


Gender plays a role in osteoarthritis. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis; nearly 200 million women are affected with this condition worldwide. Men are likely to have osteoarthritis before 45 years and women are targeted after 45 years. It is estimated that nearly 75% of all hip fractures occur in women whereas 25% of hip fractures occur in men due to osteoarthritis.

Joint injuries:

Repetitive movements or injuries to the joints lead to osteoarthritis.

The risk of osteoarthritis increases in following conditions:

  • Injuries that occur while playing sports or when met with accidents
  • Injuries that had occurred many years ago
  • If you had severe back injury
  • If you have had a broken bone near the joint


Carrying too much body weight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis. This is because, when your weight increases, it adds stress on your weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees, resulting in osteoarthritis.

Certain occupations:

When your job includes tasks such as repetitive standing, bending, and sometimes heavy lifting, it adds repetitive stress on a particular joint and eventually leads to osteoarthritis.


Some people have a genetic predisposition to osteoarthritis. Certain genes can cause defective cartilage that leads to rapid deterioration of the joints. It is estimated that about 40 to 60% cases of hand, hip, and knee osteoarthritis are related to genetics. People who are born with joint abnormalities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, and those born with an abnormality of the spine are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the spine.

Bone deformities:

Some people are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints which lead to increased risk of osteoarthritis.

Other disease conditions:

If you are suffering from any other disease conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease, and septic arthritis, then you are at the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Even though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are different treatment options available to ease your pain and maintain your mobility. Early treatment lessens the pain and manages the symptoms.  The symptoms can be managed well with lifestyle changes and medications.


Causes and Risk Factors Of Osteoarthritis
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