5 Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

5 Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that affects over 32 million people in the United States alone. As a result of damage and deterioration in a particular joint, OA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that can make it very difficult to move or function comfortably.

Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, diagnoses and treats osteoarthritis to minimize your symptoms and slow down their progression.

Here’s a look at factors that raise your risk for this common disease.

1. A history of joint injury

If you’ve had an injury to a particular joint due to a traumatic event, such as a car accident or sports injury, you run the risk of developing post-traumatic arthritis. This type of OA can stem from something as seemingly mild as a joint dislocation to a severe injury, like a compound fracture.

Rather than taking years to form, post-traumatic OA can bring inflammation, pain, and stiffness soon after the trauma. 

2. Carrying excess weight

Maintaining a body weight that exceeds your healthy range raises your OA risk by putting undue strain on your joints and surrounding tissues.

If you’re obese, meaning significantly overweight, you’re 60% more likely to develop arthritis than someone of a healthy body weight. For every 11 pounds of excess weight you gain, you also gain a 36% increase in OA likelihood.

3. Being age 65 or older

While you can develop osteoarthritis at any age, older age increases your risk because of changes in your body. By the time you reach your golden years, factors like bone weakness, bone loss, and reduced cartilage from accumulative wear-and-tear make OA more likely. 

Ligaments become less flexible with age, too, which can fuel chronic joint pain and inflammation.

4. Being sedentary or very physically active

Routine exercise helps keep your bones, muscles, and ligaments strong. Regular physical activity also promotes flexibility and staves off falls and injuries. If you miss out on those benefits by becoming inactive, you could easily develop osteoarthritis.

On the flip side, intense physical labor and exercise that place stress on your joints can contribute to OA. Intense or lengthy workouts during joint pain flare-up can worsen matters.

5. Genetic factors

If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, your genetics may lead you to experience the same. Mutations in certain genes that help your body develop and maintain bones and cartilage can make way for OA.

Genetic factors are involved in an estimated 40-70% of osteoarthritis cases. In particular, genetics are linked with OA of the hands, hip, and spine. 

What to do about your OA risk factors

If you carry one or more OA risk factors or notice OA symptoms, such as pain, mobility problems, or stiffness in a particular joint, our team can guide you toward preventive steps and any treatment you may need.

To manage OA symptoms, we may recommend:

Lifestyle habits that help prevent and minimize OA symptoms include getting appropriate exercise, cultivating positive hygiene, and eating a balanced and nutritious diet.

To learn more about osteoarthritis risk factors or get the joint care you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.

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