Age Is Not the Only Factor That Could Lead to Osteoarthritis


Age Is Not the Only Factor That Could Lead to Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects cartilage. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Although it is most often associated with middle-aged and older people, it’s a misconception to think that age is the only factor.

Age Is Not the Only Factor That Could Lead to Osteoarthritis

Who Gets It?

While it is true that most of those affected by osteoarthritis are over 55, this is not always the case. The breakdown of cartilage is a form of “wear and tear,” but there are other reasons this can occur that have nothing to do with age.

Here are several other contributing factors:

Obesity

Although it is still unclear how obesity contributes to osteoarthritis, it is clear that excess weight increases the load on the joints. For example, being 10 pounds overweight adds 30 to 60 pounds of force to the knees. This additional stress can hasten the deterioration of surrounding cartilage.

Joint Injuries

Long-term participation in sports increases the chances of incurring serious injuries. Dislocated joints, torn cartilage, sprains, and torn ligaments are some examples of injuries that can lead to osteoarthritis.

Gender

Although it’s not known exactly why women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis. The odds of getting it are roughly the same, up until age 55. After that, women are more likely than men to get it.

Genetics

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis often runs in the family. This is especially true if you suffer from defective joints or cartilage. If you’re having problems with joint pain, take note of any similar problems among family members before seeing your doctor. Knowing more about your family’s history can help them come up with the right treatment plan.

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Stress on the Joints

Even your job can contribute to osteoarthritis if it involves repetitive straining of your joints. This can be due to physical labor itself, spending lots of time on stairs or ladders, or even the physical positions you work in. Too much time on your knees increases your chances of developing osteoarthritis. If you begin having difficulty getting around, you may find yourself looking into Knee Replacement Surgeons.

Keep in mind that although osteoarthritis is most common in the hands, knees, spine, and hips, it can occur in any of the body’s joints.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Here are some common warning signs of osteoarthritis:
Stiff joints after sitting or laying down
Tenderness or inflammation in the joints
The sound or sensation of bones rubbing together
Joint pain that increases toward the end of the day

These symptoms can make life miserable for someone with osteoarthritis. Performing ordinary tasks can become difficult and painful. Even walking up the stairs or across a room can increase the likelihood of falling and sustaining even worse injuries.

Diagnosis

The first step in diagnosing osteoarthritis is to check the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical examination. While blood tests are not likely to provide sufficient insight, other types of diagnostic tests may be performed.
X-rays allow the doctor to see changes taking place in the affected areas.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is costlier than taking x-rays, but the images provided are much better. This can allow doctors to see early abnormalities more easily.
Joint aspiration involves numbing the affected area and inserting a needle to withdraw fluid. Finding evidence of crystals in the fluid can help rule out other conditions.

Treatment

At the present time, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. The goal of treatment is typically to help the patient manage their pain and reduce any contributing factors that can worsen their symptoms. Treatment plans usually consist of a combination of physical therapy, regular exercise, and medication.

Doctors are also likely to encourage lifestyle changes designed to prevent further symptoms.
Low-impact exercise can strengthen your muscles and bones while improving joint mobility.
Getting adequate rest can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Heat/cold therapy with packs and compresses is often recommended for pain and inflammation.
Losing at least 5 pounds can do a lot to relieve the load on your joints, especially hips and knees.
Devices such as canes, splints, and braces may be necessary in certain cases to support weaker joints.

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Although osteoarthritis can be a very painful and debilitating condition, it doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of the road. This is especially true if you have developed it earlier in life, rather than because of advanced age. With a few changes in your lifestyle, your doctor can help you find ways to regain your quality of life.

Georgina Hartley works in medical research and enjoys using her spare time to write health-related articles for a selection of blogs – Readers comments make her day! Outside of work she volunteers at an eldercare facility and cares for her pets.


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