9 Osteoarthritis Risk Factors And What You Can Do About Them

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Understand your osteoarthritis risk factors now so you can prevent the onset of arthritis and enjoy better mobility in your golden years.

RELATED: PRP Injection For Knee Osteoarthritis: An Overview

In this article:

  1. Aging
  2. Excessive Wear
  3. Being Overweight
  4. Bad Posture
  5. Past Accident Injuries
  6. Genes
  7. Occupation-Related
  8. Other Forms of Arthritis
  9. Diseases

Osteoarthritis Risk Factors You Need to Know About

What Is Osteoarthritis? The wearing away of cartilage surrounding joints in fingers, hips, and knees which exposes bones against each other

1. Aging

Age takes the place of number one in risk factors for osteoarthritis. How does arthritis develop as we age?

As we grow old, the cartilage cushioning the bones in our knees wear down. When the cartilage thins, the bones in the area grind against one another causing pain.

Arthritis appears unavoidable but some individuals enjoy old age without the pains of arthritis. It’s why researchers now study osteoarthritis risk factors to see if we can prevent arthritis from developing.

Although aging is unavoidable, you can choose to reduce overall wear on your joints by practicing healthy habits like eating food rich in collagen for joint health, limiting strenuous exercises, practicing good posture, and enhancing safety in your surroundings.

2. Excessive Wear

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An active lifestyle prevents many health-related issues but it may hasten the development of osteoarthritis. Excessive exercise and sports may take their toll on our knees by wearing out the joint cartilage faster through overwork and repetitive impact.

A part of our cartilage works like jelly which shifts around to evenly distribute the pressure and weight around our knees once the bones come into contact with one another. There’s no problem if the bones come together slowly because it gives time for the cartilage to shift pressure off properly.

When the bones in our knees engage each other during fast and repeated motions, our cartilage does not have time to compensate for the weight and the pressure properly. The continued stress to this area causes the cartilage to deteriorate over time.

Athletes also leave themselves vulnerable to knee accidents during games which cause arthritis to develop later on. Research has shown football players developing osteoarthritis 10 to 30 years after an injury.

If you’re an athlete, talk to your sports physician about how to preserve and protect your knee health. You will also need to give your joints time to recover after games.

3. Being Overweight

Doctors caution their patients from exceeding their ideal weight based on their height and body type. Aside from the potential heart and nerve issues, obesity ranks next to age as one of the leading osteoarthritis risk factors.

The cartilage serves as a load distributor between the hip bone and leg bone. There’s no problem when a person is within their ideal weight range.

When a person becomes overweight, those extra pounds will weigh down on their knees and become a continuous source of weight and pressure on the cartilage. The cartilage will wear down faster because of this.

If your doctor says you’re overweight, talk to them about ways to reduce your weight back to an ideal level. You can also speak with a nutritionist and a fitness expert to provide you the best diet and exercise regimen for cutting weight.

4. Bad Posture

Our muscles and cartilage take the stress off our joints everywhere in our bodies. They can do the work efficiently when we maintain good posture.

Bad posture is one of the osteoarthritis causes and risk factors we need to understand because we can control our posture.

When we slouch, for example, our neck and back muscles compensate and the joints in these bones extend more. Much like in the knees, the pressure and the burden will affect these joints and lead to osteoarthritis.

If you catch yourself slouching or slumping, discipline yourself in straightening your body each time.

RELATED: How to Keep Your Back Muscles Healthy as You Age

5. Past Accident Injuries

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We all need to avoid accidents since they are also one of the ranking osteoarthritis risk factors. We may recover from broken bones during an accident but there’s a high chance of arthritis occurring long after the bones have set and healed.

Accidents tend to warp our cartilage and change their forms entirely. When a cartilage’s form warps, it can no longer shift the weight around using fluids in its structure as effectively as before.

Much like in the other osteoarthritis risk factors, once the cartilage breaks down, arthritis occurs.

Accidents can happen even when we try our best to avoid them. Just maintain your active awareness of injury hazards in your immediate environment to prevent accidents as much as possible.

6. Genes

Experts debate over how much control we have over our ability to prevent arthritis since genetics are part of osteoarthritis risk factors.

We need to take stock of our family trees and check if our grandparents and our parents have arthritis. If you’ve observed that the older members of your family have arthritis, there’s a chance you’ll develop it too.

Our genes are out of our hands so it’s best to focus our efforts on maintaining good habits to keep osteoarthritis out of the picture for years.

7. Occupation-Related

Certain jobs force people into working into specific postures and as we’ve previously said, bad posture is an osteoarthritis risk factor. Factory workers, for example, slouch most of the time to focus on the products they’re working on in the assembly line.

Specific professions and livelihoods also put stress on our joints regularly which leads to the deterioration of our joint cartilage. Construction workers may develop arthritis the longer they stay on their jobs because of the heavy loads they carry on a daily basis.

If you’re working in a job which increases your osteoarthritis risks, consult with your doctor on how to best control your posture and what you can do in a situation. You should also ask your managers about protective gear and equipment.

8. Other Forms of Arthritis

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Osteoarthritis happens due to the wear and tear caused by repeated motions over time. Although septic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis damage the joints in different ways like bacteria and inflammation, they may both lead to osteoarthritis.

All these other forms of arthritis also impact the shape and structure of the joint cartilage in some form. If you have these types of arthritis, get in touch with your doctor to receive treatment immediately.

9. Diseases

Doctors and specialists also consider lifestyle and bone diseases as osteoarthritis risk factors.

Let’s take gout for example.

Gout occurs when crystals form around the joints due to high concentrations of purine in the body. Gout crystals will cut into the joints and cartilage causing pain on the short term and the shredding of the cartilage in the long term.

When these crystals rip the cartilage, the patient develops osteoarthritis.

Managing your health conditions will also help lessen your chances of developing arthritis in the long run.

Here are more information on osteoarthritis and how it can be treated in this video from Mayo Clinic:

When you understand osteoarthritis risk factors, you know how can you lessen the risk of developing arthritis by working around areas you can control, like posture. Even when we think osteoarthritis is inevitable, we can work on small healthy habits like good posture and staying in a healthy weight range to stave off joint pain and arthritis treatments for a long time.

For better musculoskeletal health, try the collagen bundle from Dr. Seeds.

What strategies and steps do you intend to take to manage these osteoarthritis risk factors? Give us your answers in the comments section below.

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