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Archive for the ‘Osteoarthritis Risk Factors’ Category

Risk Factor - Sedentary Lifestyle

Risk Factor - Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is a serious risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis.  When you do not exercise your joints become stiff.  Joints require lubrication to function and exercise increases lubrication.  Also muscles become stronger when you exercise, they atrophy when you don’t.  The anatomy surrounding your knee must be strong to prevent and treat osteoarthritis.  A sedentary lifestyle can not only make your osteoarthritis worse but it can also lead to a host of other health problems.

If you don’t use it, you will lose it.



Risk Factor - Repetitive Stress

Risk Factor - Repetitive Stress

Repetitive stress on the knees can also be a risk factor for osteoarthritis.  Certain occupations, specifically jobs that involve kneeling or squatting, and excessive walking and lifting are susceptible to knee osteoarthritis.  Carpet installers,  floor layers, dock workers, and shipyard workers are some examples of occupations that are at high risk.



Risk Factor - Bone Disease

Risk Factor - Bone Disease

Bone diseases are medical conditions which affect your bones, also called osteopathy.  Your bones are living tissues which rebuild constantly throughout your life.  There are many kinds of bone problems that can become risk factors for knee osteoarthritis.  Some common disorders for bones are listed below:

  • Paget’s Disease – a chronic condition that causes enlarged and deformed bones.  This disease is caused by a malfunction in the bone formation process.  New bone is poorly formed and may become weak and bend over time.
  • Bone Tumors – refers to abnormal growth of tissue within bone.  These growths can either be benign or cancerous.
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans– is a disorder of the joint where cracks form in the articular cartilage and underlying bone.  It i usually caused by blood deprivation to the bone causing the bone to die – a process called avascular necrosis.
  • Metabolic Bone Disease – this a generic term that refers to bone abnormalities caused by a variety of disorders.  Most often these disorders are caused by irregularities of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, or vitamin D.
  • Lobstein Syndrome – Brittle Bone Disease or Osteogenesis Imperfecta – This is a congenital genetic bone disorder where people are born with defective connective tissue, or without the ability to make it.  This is caused by a defect in the gene that produces Type 1 collagen, an important component of bone.


Risk Factor - Inflammatory Joint Disease

Risk Factor - Inflammatory Joint Disease

There are different types of inflammatory joint diseases, and different reasons for their causes.  Inflammation generally describes swelling, pain, and redness.

  • Autoimmune – Inflammation is the result of the immune system mistakenly creating antibodies.  These antibodies attach themselves to tissues in the joints and become targets for the immune system to attack.  This confrontation causes the joints to become inflamed.  Examples are: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and Reiter’s syndrome.
  • Septic Infection – Infection or bacteria in the bloodstream that is directly introduced to the joint by trauma or surgery can lead to this type of inflammatory joint disease.  If untreated a septic infection can lead to destruction or fusion of the joint.
  • Gout – A build up of uric acid can cause severe swelling and pain.  Fatty foods, genetic disposition and side-effects from medications are common causes.
  • Enteropathic – These inflammatory joint diseases are similar to autoimmune joint diseases with the exception that the intestines are involved.  Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel conditions can have arthritis symptoms as well.

Any of the above conditions can be a risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis.



Risk Factor - Ethnic Background

Risk Factor - Ethnic Background

Research indicates that racial and ethnic differences exist in the occurrence of osteoarthritis.  Further race and ethnicity may play a role in how individuals respond to medical care and their associated outcomes.

Generally speaking, research suggests that African Americans and people from Hispanic descent are more likely to experience pain and disability when it comes to osteoarthritis.  Also these same minority groups are less likely to have their knees replaced as when compared to Caucasian Americans.

Researchers admit that racial and ethnic differences relating to knee osteoarthritis are poorly understood.  More studies are needed to understand the biological, lifestyle factors, and psychosocial influences that might lead to these differences.



Risk Factor - Injury

Risk Factor - Injury

Most people who hurt their knees remember the incident clearly.  Was there an audible pop?  Immediate swelling?  Could you walk?

The knee normally extends to zero degrees and can flex up to 135 degrees.  The knee functions so your legs can bend and straighten.  The joint is critical for normal standing, walking, and running.

The knee joint is complicated weight-bearing structure.  Ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, menisci, bursae, and blood flow all play important roles in how the knee slides, glides, twists, and  feels.  An injury to any part of the knee joint can throw off the way your knee moves.

This biomechanical imbalance caused by an injury can affect the wear-and-tear of your cartilage and be a leading risk factor for you to develop knee osteoarthritis.



Risk Factor - Genetics

Risk Factor - Genetics

Osteoarthritis frequently runs in families, past down from generation to generation.  Genetics is often an important risk factor.  Researchers believe that osteoarthritis runs in families and affects multiple family members.

Studies are currently underway searching for a genetic basis for the disease.  The research could unlock new possibilities for treating knee osteoarthritis and designing preventive measures at a genetic level.

Genetic factors play a more significant role in hand OA than knee OA.



Risk Factor - Obesity

Risk Factor - Obesity

Studies have consistently shown that being overweight will increase your likelihood of developing knee osteoarthritis.  Obesity is a clear risk factor.  Being overweight increases the load placed on the knee joint.  This increased stress could hasten the breakdown of cartilage.

Scientific estimates put the stress on a knee joint at 3 to 6 times a person’s body weight while walking.  The more you weight the more stress you place on your knees with every step you take.  Some studies have also shown that being overweight increases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis in the hands.  This suggests that circulation may also play a role in how osteoarthritis develops.



Risk Factor - Gender

Risk Factor - Gender

It is estimated that women comprise 60% of the 27 million people in the United States that have osteoarthritis. It occurs in men more commonly when they are younger but after the age of 55 women will develop knee osteoarthritis more severely. There are several reasons for this:

 

  • Anatomy.  Women have wider hips than men, so their legs are angled differently. This means their body weight is less evenly distributed across their knees, putting women at a biomechanical disadvantage to men. Also, the tendons in the lower bodies of women are more flexible than in men, making their joints less stable. The flexible tendons and wider hips help facilitate child birth, but combine to have a negative effect on knee joints.
  • Menopause. Researchers believe that estrogen helps protect cartilage in women. When estrogen levels drop, so does the protection. Women going through menopause tend to gain weight, particularly around the belly. The combination of weight gain and less cartilage protection may play a part as to why women experience a higher rate of Knee OA as compared to men.
  • High Heels. A Harvard study explained that women who wear high heels have an increased likelihood of getting OA in their knees. High heels were shown to strain knees and stress the surrounding anatomy. This strain can be shown to lead to OA.
  • Genetics. Heredity certainly plays a role in the development of OA. There is a good chance that the daughter of a woman with OA will have OA herself.
  • Obesity – Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men. They average 25% as compared to 15% in men.


Risk Factor - Age

Risk Factor - Age

The older we get the more likely it becomes that we will develop knee osteoarthritis.  Men are more likely to develop osteoarthritis before the age of 45, and it occurs more frequently in females after the age of 55.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage.  It is known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it often takes years for the cartilage to erode.  Most people over the age of 60 have some degree of osteoarthritis but the severity of symptoms varies.

Age is a primary risk factor for knee osteoarthritis.  Symptoms usually start appearing during a person’s middle age.