Osteoarthritis is one of the fastest diagnosed forms of arthritis in the United States, with approximately 20 million people affected by the disease in the United States alone. With this type of statistic, it is thought that in a few years almost everyone will somehow be affected personally by osteoarthritis. So what exactly is osteoarthritis, and what are the major risk factors for osteoarthritis? How do you know if you have it, and what can you do to prevent it? Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, and the number of diagnosed cases in the United States is growing exponentially. Here are some of the most prescient risk factors for osteoarthritis, and what you can do about it.
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that most commonly affects the areas of the knees, hips, hands, and ankles. These are commonly referred to as the body’s weight bearing joints, because they tend to receive more weight pressure than other areas of the body. Many people refer to osteoarthritis as a “wear and tear” disease, referring to the fact that osteoarthritis most commonly affects those whose joints have been worn down, either by time or through some form of sustained injury. Since more people are living longer lives, frequently exceeding the age of 65, it is expected that the number of diagnosed cases of osteoarthritis will soar. One statistic estimates that there could be over 70 million cases of osteoarthritis diagnosed in the United States by the year 2030.
One of the major risk factors for osteoarthritis is some form of sustained injury in the patient’s past. Although osteoarthritis is generally regarded as an older person’s disease, it can also affect younger patients. Most of the time this due to some kind of joint injury sustained by the younger patient. The other major risk factor for osteoarthritis is age. Women are more susceptible for developing osteoarthritis after the age of 45. Men, conversely, appear more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis earlier, often demonstrating the first symptoms of the disease before the age of 45. Older people are more susceptible to osteoarthritis because their joints have endured a lifetime of use. Other risk factors include poor posture, diabetes, and dislocated hips.
Another major risk factor of osteoarthritis is obesity. Even those who are overweight, and not officially obese, may be at a greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. Being overweight places greater stress and pressure on the body’s weight bearing joints. Many doctors will advise their patients to lose weight as a part of their therapy. Maintaining a healthy weight is also recommended as a means of preventing the onset of osteoarthritis. Another risk factor of osteoarthritis is the presence of any kind of congenital deformity. People who are born with congenital deformities are much more likely to suffer from joint injuries. This in turn places them at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis. People who suffer from congenital deformities that could place them at a higher risk for osteoarthritis should be aware that certain physical activities could worsen the effects of the disease. Tennis, running, and jogging are all weight bearing activities that can exacerbate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Less intense activities such as yoga and walking are recommended as part of a therapy as well as a preventive means.