09
Oct

Why do people get osteoarthritis?

Before finding out how people get osteoarthritis, we should understand what osteoarthritis is really all about.

Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It is a condition in which the natural cushioning between joints — cartilage — wears away. When this happens, the bones of the joints rub more closely against one another with less of the shock-absorbing benefits of cartilage. The rubbing results in pain, swelling, stiffness, decreased ability to move and, sometimes, the formation of bone spurs. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.

The most common cause of osteoarthritis of the knee is age. Almost everyone will eventually develop some degree of osteoarthritis. However, several factors increase the risk of developing significant arthritis at an earlier age.

Age

The ability of cartilage to heal decreases as a person gets older.

Genes

Various genetic traits can make a person more likely to develop OA. One possibility is a rare defect in the body’s production of collagen, the protein that makes up cartilage. This abnormality can cause osteoarthritis to occur as early as age 20. Other inherited traits may result in slight defects in the way the bones fit together so that cartilage wears away faster than usual.

Weight

Being overweight puts additional pressure on hips and knees. Many years of carrying extra pounds can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster. Research has shown there is a link between being overweight and having an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the hands. These studies suggest that excess fat tissue produces inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) that can damage the joints.

Injury and overuse

Repetitive movements or injuries to joints (such as a fracture, surgery or ligament tears) can lead to osteoarthritis. Some athletes, for example, repeatedly damage joints, tendons and ligaments, which can speed cartilage breakdown. Certain careers that require standing for long periods of time, repetitive bending, heavy lifting or other movements can also make cartilage wear away more quickly. An imbalance or weakness of the muscles supporting a joint can also lead to altered movement and eventual cartilage breakdown in joints.

Others

People with rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type of arthritis, are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis. People with certain metabolic disorders, such as iron overload or excess growth hormone, also run a higher risk of osteoarthritis.

OA is a progressive disease. Symptoms worsen over time. There is no cure, but treatments like prolotherapy and viscosupplement can help the individual control pain and swelling, and stay mobile and active. We highly encourage you to talk to Dr Darryl Chew to discover the best treatment for you. Click here to contact us.