Fitness Articles

The Causes of Osteoarthritis

Learn Which Risk Factors You Can Control


Uncontrollable Risk Factors
These variables are out of your control. Although you can't do anything to change them, it's important to know whether you fall into any of these higher-risk categories.
  • Your age. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people (although it can afflict young adults who experience joint injuries). Almost all people over 65 show some signs of developing osteoarthritis, and by age 70, nearly every person will have this condition. However, symptoms of osteoarthritis commonly begin between the ages of 30 and 40.
  • Your gender. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more often in men, but after age 45, osteoarthritis is more common in women.
  • Your race. Caucasians and African Americans have an overall higher risk of developing osteoarthritis than other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Your family history. You are more likely to develop osteoarthritis if one or both of your parents had the condition. Research suggests that defective genes, which cause deterioration of the joint, can be passed down from parent to child.
  • Your health history. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, change the structure of the cartilage and therefore increase the risk for osteoarthritis.
  • Your previous injuries. Joint injuries or overuse, whether from physical labor, sports, or repetitive injury, can increase the risk for developing osteoarthritis. Even a single injury to a joint can result in the development of osteoarthritis many years later.
  • Your joint alignment. Joints that move or fit together incorrectly are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
While you can’t change things like family history or previous injuries, you can control certain factors related to your lifestyle—the choices you make each day about what to eat and how to care for yourself. These are areas of your life where you can take proactive steps to help prevent and treat osteoarthritis and enhance your overall health.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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