The 8 main causes of osteoarthritis- common sense ways you wear out your joints

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: September 8, 2017
causes of osteoarthritis

What are the Causes of Osteoarthritis = Degenerative arthritis?

 causes of osteoarthritisWhen we are exploring what are the causes of osteoarthritis, we need to take into account many things, including heredity, weight, and joint usage.

There are other factors which you may not have considered. No matter what the causes of osteoarthritis are, the results are the same: pain, stiffness and eventually, disability.

However, we are in a new era regarding arthritis relief with potential cures for arthritis pain via medical procedures and natural treatments for arthritis. I’ll be writing about them within the next week or so.

I’ll also be writing about things that make arthritis worse, so DO look for that article as well!


Some people have an inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage. This causes defective cartilage, which leads to more rapid deterioration of joints. People born with joint abnormalities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, and those born with an abnormality of the spine (such as scoliosis or curvature of the spine) are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the spine.

You’re more likely to suffer from OA symptoms if your parents, grandparents, or siblings have or had osteoarthritis. OA tends to run in the family, especially if you have genetic joint defects. If you’re suffering from joint pain, get the details about your close relatives’ symptoms so you can make a proper “family history” for your doctor.

The diagnosis of arthritis relies greatly on medical history as well as a physical examination.

menopausal belly fat can cause joint pressure and thus arthritis

Joint overuse:

Overuse of certain joints increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

As an example, people in jobs requiring repeated bending of the knee are at higher risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee.


a cause of arthritis can be repeated injury

Injuries contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Athletes who have knee-related injuries may be at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.

Also, people who have had a severe back injury may be predisposed to develop osteoarthritis of the spine.

People who have had a broken bone near a joint are prone to develop osteoarthritis in that joint.

Sports Injuries:

The trauma of a sports injury can cause osteoarthritis in adults of any age. Common injuries that may lead to OA include:
Torn cartilage, ligament injuries and dislocated joints as well as broken bones.

Sports-related knee trauma such as ACL strains and tears are especially dangerous when it comes to increasing your risk of arthritis. Research has shown that 41 to 51 percent of participants with previous knee injuries showed signs of OA in later years. So, be careful about picking your kids’ sports. That’s all I’m going to say.


Obesity increases the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and spine. This is due to the “load” on the joint and makes sense when you think about it,right? Maintaining your ideal weight or losing excess weight may help prevent osteoarthritis or decrease the rate of progression once osteoarthritis is established. We will definitely get into this! I can do a personal weight loss program just for you, in fact!

There is a reason we see midlife weight gain and what people call “unexplained weight gain” along with an increased incidence of hip, back and knee arthritis. Everyone needs to eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet starting at age 25 so that when they hit 45, they don’t have an urgent need to lose weight, increase muscle mass or have to learn how to decrease body fat. It can be something we all just “do as we go”!

Eating an inflammatory diet/having total body inflammation:

acetyl l carnitine benefits include padding joints by increasing muscle mass

It is well known that those who eat the typical “American diet” are at risk for all sorts of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and yes indeed, arthritis.

Other diseases:

People with rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type of arthritis, are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. In addition, certain rare conditions, such as iron overload increase your chances of developing OA as well.

What about age and arthritis (OA) development?

Arthritis is a common joint problem and is usually associated with older adults. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), most people show symptoms of osteoarthritis by the time they are 70 years old. When I was a med student we were told a simple statistic which is still true: at 30, 30% will have OA,at 40…40%…at 50, 50% and so on until 80 where it then levels off.

However, OA is not restricted to baby boomers and other middle-aged or older populations. Younger adults, who are more likely to develop arthritis as a direct result of a trauma are a part of the “population with arthritis.” They too can also feel the morning joint stiffness, aching pain, tender joints, and limited range of motion that is the hallmark of  OA. Age isn’t really one of the causes of osteoarthritis, but it makes sense that the longer you use (or abuse) joints, the more chance you have for OA, right?

Male or female-does it matter?

Gender plays a role in osteoarthritis. I give you all of the pertinent statistics in the arthritis types and stats article.  Overall, more women than men develop the progressive symptoms of OA. The two sexes are on equal ground meaning about the same amount of each gender is affected by arthritis, until about age 55.  After the age of 55, females are more likely to have OA than men of the same age. You recall why I personally THINK this is? Muscle mass to “pad” the joints. It makes sense even though not officially studied, right?

OA and Professions:

What you do for a living (or even a hobby) could be causes of osteoarthritis in some cases. OA is sometimes called the “wear and tear” disease. Repetitive “grinding” of your joints can cause the cartilage in them to wear down prematurely.

People who perform physical labor, kneel, squat, or climb stairs for hours at a time may be more likely to develop joint pain and stiffness. The hands, knees, and hips are common joints affected by occupation-related OA.

In general, when you squat you should not do so past ninety degrees of flexion, meaning do not squat near to full capacity. Kneeling at work can be helped with knee pads. Climbing stairs means buy and use the most padded sneakers you can find.

There’s hope:

If you have osteoarthritis, you can do many things to “stop the carnage.”

You can lose weight, stop any joint-pounding activities and explore the myriad of cures for arthritis that doesn’t include joint replacement.

You can take joint-regenerating, pain-relieving supplements. I’ll briefly talk about that here next and have done two more articles or two dedicated to just that topic. (Natural pain relief for arthritis).

You can cushion your affected joints with properly done weight training exercises + muscle building supplements. And I encourage you to do the right exercises for arthritis to increase mobility and decrease pain.


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