Risk factors for osteoarthritis

Last modified: September 10, 2019

Several factors play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. The common denominator is that they cause negative load on the cartilage. Some of the things that cause this negative load are purely genetic and therefore cannot be influenced. However, these risk factors can still be minimized to a large extent – the important thing is just to be aware of them. A few of the common risk factors for osteoarthritis are set out below.

Joint injuries are one of several risk factors for osteoarthritis

The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases if a joint has been injured. This is because the cartilage is subject to more load, causing reduced shock absorption in the joint (particularly if there is injury to the cruciate ligament or meniscus). This applies primarily to the development of knee osteoarthritis.

Repetitive stress is a cause of osteoarthritis

Repetitive stress is another one of the risk factors for osteoarthritis. If your joints are used in the same way every day for many years, this can cause the cartilage to gradually break down. This then leads to the development of osteoarthritis. The good thing about this it is that improved loading patterns and a varied working position can reduce the risk for joint pain. Some professions that include frequent repetitive movements are affected by osteoarthritis to a larger extent. Some examples of this include postal workers, floor-layers, construction workers and hairdressers.

Muscle weakness/excess weight can lead to joint pain

Regarding osteoarthritis, it is more important to talk about body weight in relation to muscle than to talk about excess weight in general. Put simply: carrying more bodyweight than the muscles can support is a risk factor. The stronger you are, the more weight you can carry – and vice versa. It’s then more important to be strong than to be thin.

Extreme sports may cause osteoarthritis

In general, the risk of developing osteoarthritis is lower for people who train regularly. The exception from this is training at an elite level. The body may be under more stress that it can stand, which can make the training a contributory factor. If this is also combined with other risk factors for osteoarthritis, the risk of being affected is even higher.

Heredity increases the risk of osteoarthritis

Our joints have different shape. This means that from a purely physical perspective it can be easier or more difficult to develop osteoarthritis. It can then be beneficial to find out if you have any close relatives with osteoarthritis. If you do, it may be time to take prevention measures at an early age. In particular, osteoarthritis of the hip (or coxarthrosis, which is the medical name) depends to a large extent on genetic factors.

Continue reading: osteoarthritis symptoms.