What causes osteoarthritis?

Several risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis (OA).

  • Longevity: Living to 65 or more does not mean you will inevitably develop OA, but being older considerably increases your risk of developing the disease.
  • Family history: If other members of your family have or did have OA, your risk of developing OA increases. OA of the hand, for instance, has been found to run in some families. A family trait, though, does not mean you will inevitably develop the disease. Hereditary traits are complex and genetic research has shown that several genetic traits can lead to OA. Although a family history of OA is not necessarily your destiny, taking preventive measures such as staying active, watching your weight, and being on the lookout for early symptoms will serve you well. At the first signs of OA take early action, a wise self-help approach. 
  • Gender or, more precisely, being female: OA is more common in women than it is in men. As well as an overall gender imbalance, some female joints, such as those in the hands, can have a genetic link to OA.
  • Being overweight or obese: Excess weight puts unnecessary stress on joints, especially knee and hip joints. Add time into the mix and you can see how carrying too much weight could cause excessive strain on the joint under years of additional pressure. Excess weight appears to affect hands too, suggesting that factors circulating in the blood related to obesity may contribute to OA.
  • Past joint injury:  A medical history of joint damage, joint surgery, or damage to joint-supporting ligaments and tendons can result in OA.