10 Causes and Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

Considered as the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that wastes away the cartilages of the joints, making mobility and daily life in general both difficult and painful.

Multiple factors, both external and internal are at play…

1. Age

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The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age with people in their 50s to their 60s are most vulnerable to this. However, young people, especially those with athletic and active lifestyles, aren’t off the hook just yet, as they can still develop osteoarthritis as early as their 20s.

The gender you were born with can also have something to do with your risk for developing osteoarthritis for multiple reasons…

2. Sex

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Physiatrist Dr. Ana Bracilovic notes that women are considerably more prone to developing osteoarthritis in the hands, knees, and hips than men are. This might be due to the contrasts in their respective musculoskeletal systems and biomechanics, as well as increased hormone levels during menstruation. Menopause may also increase the risk of women developing osteoarthritis, due to a drop in estrogen.

This next risk factor also contributes to this occurrence…

3. Obesity

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Obesity also plays a role in the higher incidence of osteoarthritis in women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Moreover, obesity can increase the risk of developing other serious health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure. However, regardless of sex, obesity puts more stress on and causes friction between bones and joints in the hips, knees, and even ankles.

But, obesity isn’t the only factor that can cause joint stress and friction…

4. Injuries

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Strenuous activities, sports, and accidents can cause major injuries like broken bones or torn ligaments. These harmful incidents can in turn increase your chance of getting osteoarthritis, as these can affect the cartilages’ stability in the joints.

On the other hand, health problems can put you at risk too…

5. Metabolic Diseases

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According to a recent study, people who suffer a combination of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, collectively known as metabolic syndrome, are more likely to develop osteoarthritis as these conditions are closely linked together. As mentioned before, obesity can exacerbate these medical circumstances. Such development can result in severe pain throughout the body and in some cases, make managing the pain more difficult.

Unfortunately, it’s not always the physical conditions that can harm you…

6. Psychological Factors

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  1. The state of our mental health can also affect our risk of getting osteoarthritis. A 2016 study shows the physical impact of anxiety and depression on the index joints causing occasional heightened flare ups, including around the knees and hips.

Furthermore, the study reported those with osteoarthritis and anxiety and depression generally visited their GP more frequently than those without anxiety and depression.

Old habits die hard, but one has to cut them at some point…

7. Smoking

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As we all know, cigarette smoking is generally dangerous for our health, and it can even lead to developing osteoarthritis, as the effects of smoking effectively exacerbates cartilage loss. These adverse effects may even worsen over time or with continued smoking habits.

So, it’s important to consider the effects smoking has on your health, especially if it’s a coping mechanism you use to escape stress.

Stressful and/or dangerous work environments can unfortunately be both physically and mentally draining…

8. Occupational Risks

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Jobs that involve excessive or arduous knee-bending, squatting, lifting, or jumping, or heavy physical workloads in general, can trigger osteoarthritis, especially in the hips and knees. These symptoms may even worsen or increase over time, which is why it’s so important to keep track of your health.

Sometimes, though, your chances of developing serious medical conditions like osteoarthritis just runs in your blood…

9. Genetics

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Technically, osteoarthritis is not hereditary like Tay Sachs or hemophilia, but one can still be born with a greater proneness to it. The gene responsible for it, or its pattern of inheritance, has not been fully identified. A 2008 study concluded that although the specific genes and/or gene patterns that might increase the risk of osteoarthritis are unknown, genetic influence should not be ignored.

It turns out, other factors might influence the risk of developing this condition, including the color of your skin…

10. Race

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Recent studies have discovered that osteoarthritis might be more common among Chinese and African American people, as they may have heightened levels of pain and suffer stronger effects of the condition than Caucasians or any other racial group. This may be due to environmental and genetic factors.

More research needs to be conducted to fully understand the impact race has on the development of osteoarthritis, though.

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