Osteoarthritis (OA) means inflammation of the joints although it is better known as a degenerative disease due to the inflammation of the joints with thinning of the articular cartilage. The cartilage in our joints allows for the smooth movement of joints. When it becomes damaged due to injury, infection or gradual effects of ageing, joints movement is hindered. As a result, the tissues within the joint become irritated causing pain and swelling within the joint.
Old age As a person grows older, it becomes more likely that the cartilage may be worn away. OA is uncommon in people below 40 years of age.
Gender Women are more likely to suffer from OA, especially after menopause.
Previous joint injury Someone with a previous injury to the cartilage within the joint, e.g. after a fracture involving the joint or after a sporting injury to the joint will have a higher risk of developing OA later in life.
Weight A greater than normal body weight puts more stress on the weight-bearing joints such as the hip and knee, increasing the likelihood of developing OA in these joints.
Bone deformities People born with deformed joints or abnormal cartilage have an increased risk of OA.
Other diseases that affect the joints Bone and joint diseases that increase the risk of OA include other arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
Genetics Genetic factors may predispose to the development of OA.
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