Osteoarthritis: Cause and risk factors

Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective layer between joints (cartilage) becomes too thin to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other, causing pain and inflammation. The cause of the cartilage thinning has not yet been found, but there are factors that might increase your risk.


Our joints are constantly under pressure and so the body must be efficient in repairing different little injuries and strains. Most likely we are not even aware of most of the injuries we have in the joints, because the body manages to fix the problems before symptoms arise.
Some injuries are too tough for the body to repair and these can trigger osteoarthritis. Damages such as ligament problems, inflammation in the bone or joint and damage to the cartilage are known to increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis.

Risk factors of osteoarthritis

Other risk factors that might trigger osteoarthritis are :

- Age: When we get older our joints are more likely to be worn

- Genetics: If you have a close relative with osteoarthritis you may have a higher risk of developing the condition. But so far there is no conclusive evidence leaning towards a specific gene.

- Obesity: The more you weigh, the more you strain your joints. The hips and knees are especially at risk, since they carry the weight.

- Other injuries: If you have an existing condition causing damage to your joints, osteoarthritis is the perfect breeding ground for developing the ailment.

Last updated: 9/18/18

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