The causes of osteoarthritis include previous injury to the joint, obesity as well as aging. There is only one cause of this disease that you can do anything about and that is obesity. Many people who are overweight will develop knee osteoarthritis as a symptom. This is because the excessive weight puts a strain on the cartilage in the knee and causes it to deteriorate.
Changes in joint tissue can cause parts of the joint to break down and usually happens little by little over time. This does not happen because of simple wear and tear on the joints. Certain factors may make it more likely for you to develop the disease, including:
- Being overweight or obese.
- History of injury or surgery to a joint.
- Overuse from repeated movements of the joint.
- Joints that do not form correctly.
- Family history of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints of the body. This includes the knees, the fingers, the spine and the elbows and shoulders. Most people who suffer from osteoarthritis do so in their knees, back and fingers. It is a condition that causes the cartilage that surrounds the joint to weaken. The joint becomes inflamed and results in great pain.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
The symptoms of osteoarthritis often begin slowly and usually begin with one or a few joints. The common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain when using the joint, which may get better with rest. For some people, in the later stages of the disease, the pain may be worse at night.
- Joint stiffness, usually lasting less than 30 minutes, in the morning or after resting for a period of time.
- Swelling in and around the joint, especially after you use the area a lot.
- Changes in the ability to move the joint.
- Feeling that the joint is loose or unstable.
As your symptoms get worse over time, some activities may be difficult to do, such as:
- Stepping up.
- Getting on or off the toilet or in and out of a chair.
- Gripping a pan.
- Walking across a parking lot.
Pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis may lead you to feel tired, have problems sleeping, and feel depressed.
Anyone who has played sports will often experience knee osteoarthritis as this is one of the common causes of arthritis among athletes. While osteoarthritis is more predominant in women over the age of 50, if it presents early, it is most likely going to be found in a man. Many men who played sports as youths suffered injuries to their knees and joints. These injuries, over time, cause the cartilage to wear down and cause the condition of osteoarthritis.
When this condition is found in a younger person who is healthy and fit, and is located in a joint that can be replaced, such as the knee, knee replacement surgery is often recommended. When osteoarthritis strikes, it will continue to get worse for the person who suffers from the condition. A younger person may find themselves disabled by the condition by the time they are 50 if they do not get help. This is why knee replacement surgery is often performed on younger patients.
Being overweight is one of the main causes of osteoarthritis. Patients who are overweight will also discover that the excessive strain on their knees from their weight is causing osteoarthritis in the knees. They are often advised to lose weight. This can be difficult as exercise may be painful in such a condition. But losing weight can alleviate the pain symptoms of this condition.
Aging is something that no one can help. Most of the people who suffer from osteoarthritis are women over the age of 50. Like osteoporosis, it is believed that a healthy, balanced diet and supplements can help stave off this condition. Many women who suffer from osteoarthritis have a lack of Vitamin D in their diet. Women should make sure that they take vitamins and eat properly so that they can avoid having this painful condition as they get older. Unlike osteoporosis, that causes brittle bones, osteoarthritis affects the joints.
Cold weather exposure is also linked to osteoarthritis. Those who worked in situations where they experienced sudden changes in temperature to their hands or other body parts may be more affected. For example, if they worked in an area that was cold and stuck their hands in warm water to get the warm, they may be more inclined to develop osteoarthritis of the finger joints.
Treatment options depend upon the causes of osteoarthritis. Obviously, if someone is overweight, they will want to lose weight so that they can treat their condition. You may be able to avoid this condition by taking health supplements, eating right and maintaining an ideal body weight.
Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions your bones at the joints. It allows bones to glide over one another. When the cartilage breaks down and wears away, the bones rub together. This often causes the pain, swelling, and stiffness of OA.
As OA worsens, bony spurs or extra bone may form around the joint. The ligaments and muscles around the joint may become weaker and stiffer.
Before age 55, OA occurs equally in men and women. After age 55, it is more common in women.
Other factors can also lead to OA.
- OA tends to run in families.
- Being overweight increases the risk for OA in the hip, knee, ankle, and foot joints. This is because extra weight causes more wear and tear.
- Fractures or other joint injuries can lead to OA later in life. This includes injuries to the cartilage and ligaments in your joints.
- Jobs that involve kneeling or squatting for more than an hour a day, or involve lifting, climbing stairs, or walking increase the risk for OA.
- Playing sports that involve direct impact on the joint (football), twisting (basketball or soccer), or throwing also increase the risk for OA.
Medical conditions that can lead to OA or symptoms similar to OA include:
- Bleeding disorders that cause bleeding in the joint, such as hemophilia
- Disorders that block the blood supply near a joint and lead to bone death (avascular necrosis)
- Other types of arthritis, such as long-term (chronic) gout, pseudogout, or rheumatoid arthritis