Hereditary osteoarthritis – how to prevent it

Last modified: December 12, 2019

There are several factors that play a significant role in the development of osteoarthritis. One such factor is heredity and the physical structure of the joint. If your family has a history of osteoarthritis, there is then a risk that you may develop it as well. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to try to prevent the illness in advance. The expression “hereditary osteoarthritis” does not mean a specific type of osteoarthritis. This is just one way to explain how the disease develops.

Background – is osteoarthritis hereditary?

There is no simple answer to the question “why do people develop osteoarthritis?.” There are a number of risk factors that can influence the development of the disease. The common denominator of these is too much strain on the joints. This can then in turn occur in various ways. Monotonous strain in the form of a work position that is does not change, a high body weight in relation to muscle mass, and previous joint injuries are a few examples. Heredity also affects the development of the disease and is therefore also considered a risk factor.

What are the symptoms of hereditary osteoarthritis?

Regardless of whether osteoarthritis has developed due to heredity, excess weight, or a previous trauma, most people experience the same symptoms: stiffness and pain. The symptoms of osteoarthritis also often come and go, with no apparent reason. The disease can then seem to be worse on some days and better on others. How to handle episodes of osteoarthritis is very individual, but a general recommendation is to try to be as physically active as possible even if it is painful. This will make it easier to handle the bad episodes in the long run. So do not stop exercising during the periods when you feel good.

In the simplest terms, osteoarthritis can be described as a breakdown of the joints. Above all, the disease involves the cartilage on each end of the skeletal bones gradually breaking down. Because the cartilage constitutes a gliding surface, the friction and resistance in the affected joint will increase. There is also general inflammation that affects the entire joint and that can vary in intensity. This tends to be painful and can cause a lot of discomfort for the person suffering from joint disease.

Preventing the development of hereditary osteoarthritis

For those who know that they have a history of osteoarthritis in the family, there are several reasons for trying to prevent the disease. Regardless, it does not hurt anyone to strengthen the joints through exercising. Osteoarthritis is actually a very common disease that can affect anybody.

In order to prevent osteoarthritis, it is important to be somewhat active every day and to exercise regularly. The type of exercise one performs is up to the individual – the most important thing is that it is a type of exercise that is gentle on the joints. This can be anything from spinning or swimming to daily walks, depending on the circumstances. Controlling your diet and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables (and less sugar and processed foods) is also recommended to prevent osteoarthritis. This is primarily important to control body weight/body fat.

If you would like tips, advice, and information about the disease, you can visit a physical therapist. If you are not able to make it to a physical location, or if you would simply prefer online instruction, you can download the app Joint Academy. With both of these options, you get professional help to find the correct exercises that can strengthen the affected joint.

Treating hereditary osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that causes changes to the joints. These changes cannot be reversed, but in a large majority of those affected, it is possible to reduce the symptoms. Using different lifestyle changes, different training exercises that strengthen the affected joint and the muscles around the joint, it is possible to return to a normal life where the pain has essentially disappeared entirely. It is only after the affected person has been tested for all other possible treatment methods that surgery may be considered appropriate. But even after surgery, it is recommended to continue working the joints through different exercises.

Learn the answer to common questions about osteoarthritis.