The Causes and Risk Factors of Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis, also referred to as osteoarthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It deteriorates the cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage is a tough and rubbery substance, usually protecting the ends of bones and enabling easy joint movements. The cartilage degeneration causes the smooth surface of bones in joints to turn pitted and rough. It leads to pain and irritation of the surrounding tissues. But what causes degenerative arthritis? Let’s find out some risk factors for osteoarthritis.

What Causes Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Arthritis?

Primary osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of cartilage. It can affect any joint. However, normally it affects your thumbs, knees, fingers, big toes, or spine.

Degenerative arthritis usually affects older people. The repeated use of joints damages the cartilage, causing pain and swelling. What happens in such cases is, water builds up in the cartilage and leads to protein breakdown. It can result in flaking or small tears. In worse cases, all the cartilage between the bones of a joint can get damaged. The bones would then rub together, worsening the situation, causing pain, and complicating the use of the joint. A damaged cartilage can lead to bone growth around the joints.

Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis has numerous risk factors. While some are modifiable, some are not. Let’s look at both to know who may be at risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Modifiable Factors

  • Sports Activities: Sports like ice hockey, rugby, soccer, and handball may develop the risk of premature osteoarthritis in the knee and hip region.
  • Occupational Overuse: Repeated use of a joint or injury may lead to osteoarthritis. Such osteoarthritis is more likely to develop in weight-bearing joints like the knees. Certain activities like climbing, knee-bending, kneeling, and squatting may also make the individual more prone to developing osteoarthritis.
  • Weak Muscles: A joint that lacks the support of adequate skeletal muscles could be more susceptible to alignment changes and injury causing osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity: Being overweight stresses the joints and causes inflammation. The latter is caused due to the fat cells that produce proteins that travel around the person’s body. Hence, people suffering from degenerative arthritis in one joint are more vulnerable to developing it in the other.

Non-Modifiable Factors

  • Genetics: A person with a family member with osteoarthritis can develop it. However, it isn’t unavoidable. People with a history of degenerative arthritis running in the family can take preventive measures to reduce their susceptibility.
  • Gender: Males aged 50 and younger are more prone to developing osteoarthritis. However, in individuals who are 50 and above, it is females, specifically after menopause, who are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
  • Age: Degenerative arthritis in at least one joint is more common in people above 65 years of age. Thus, with age, the chances of osteoarthritis also increase.
  • Bone Misalignment: People with misaligned bones or joints or musculoskeletal abnormalities are more vulnerable to developing osteoarthritis.

Measures like regular physical activity, maintaining a moderate weight, reducing stress, controlling blood sugar, consuming foods preventing inflammation, getting adequate rest, avoiding smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation can help reduce the risk of developing degenerative arthritis. For more information, call us at +91 – 20 – 24261530 to book an appointment and discuss your case with us.

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