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Archive for May, 2011

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.



OA Risk Factors

OA Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a certain disease or medical condition.  This series of blog posts will look at common risk factors associated with osteoarthritis.  It is possible to to develop knee osteoarthritis without these risk factors but your chances of developing the disease increases with the more risk factors you have.

Age, Gender, Genetic Factors, Ethnic Background, Obesity, Injury, Inflammatory Joint Diseases, Bone Disorders, Repetitive Stress, Uric Acid Crystals, and a Sedentary Lifestyle could all increase the risk of osteoarthritis affecting your knees.



depression

depression

Depression usually isn’t associated with knee osteoarthritis.  But since osteoarthritis can limit people physically, the disease can restrict people’s lives.  This can lead to depression.

Researchers have shown that certain factors exist that can predict the severity of depression in patients suffering with knee OA.  Some of the predictors are:

  • level of pain
  • limited social contacts
  • physical limitations
  • age
  • being overweight

To help curb the onset of depression make sure your treatment plan is comprehensive.  Control your weight, manage your pain, and avoid social isolation.  Don’t be afraid to discuss how OA is affecting your social life with your doctor.  It is important!