A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop osteoarthritis (OA) with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing OA. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
The risk of OA increases with age, especially in those over 50 years old. OA is more common in women than in men, but it affects men at an earlier age.
Other factors that may increase your chance of OA include:
- Family history
- Obesity, which causes extra strain on the joints
- Occupation—jobs or intense athletics that require a lot of lifting, squatting, or repetitive joint use
- Weakness of muscles or tendons—joints without proper support will have more stress
- Previous injury or surgery to the joint
- History of joint infection or disease
- Inherited structural abnormalities—may cause imbalance or misalignment that increases stress on joint
- Chemical or hormonal imbalances in the body—that may affect the health of cartilage
Degenerative joint disease of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 17, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.
Degenerative joint disease of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 25, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. Updated August 2013. Accessed December 1, 2014.
Sinusas, K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and treatment.
Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(1):49-56.
9/3/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Zhou ZY, Liu YK, et al. Body mass index and knee osteoarthritis risk: A dose-response meta-analysis. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(10):2180-2185.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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