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Osteoarthritis Causes

For most people, the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but metabolic, genetic, chemical, and mechanical factors play a role in its development. It is associated with the aging process and is the most common form of arthritis.

It may first appear without symptoms between 30 and 40 years of age and is present in almost everyone by the age of 70. Symptoms generally appear in middle age. Before the age of 55 it occurs equally in both sexes. However, after 55 the incidence is higher in women.

The cartilage of the affected joint is roughened and becomes worn down. As the disease progresses, the cartilage becomes completely worn down and the bone rubs on bone. Bony spurs usually develop around the joint.

Systemic symptoms, sometimes associated with other arthritic conditions, are not associated with osteoarthritis. The joints of the hands and fingers, hips, knees, big toe, and cervical and lumbar spine are commonly affected.

The degeneration of the joint may begin as a result of trauma to the joint, occupational overuse, obesity, or mal-alignment of the joints (for example being bow-legged or knock-kneed).

Until the late 1980s, OA was regarded as an inevitable part of aging, caused by simple "wear and tear" on the joints. This view has been replaced by recent research into cartilage formation. OA is now considered to be the end result of several different factors contributing to cartilage damage, and is classified as either primary or secondary.
 
 

Primary osteoarthritis Causes

Primary OA results from abnormal stresses on weight-bearing joints or normal stresses operating on weakened joints. Primary OA most frequently affects the finger joints, the hips and knees, the cervical and lumbar spine, and the big toe. The enlargements of the finger joints that occur in OA are referred to as Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes. Some gene mutations appear to be associated with OA. Obesity also increases the pressure on the weight-bearing joints of the body. Finally, as the body ages, there is a reduction in the ability of cartilage to repair itself. In addition to these factors, some researchers have theorized that primary OA may be triggered by enzyme disturbances, bone disease, or liver dysfunction.

Secondary osteoarthritis Causes

Secondary OA results from chronic or sudden injury to a joint. It can occur in any joint. Secondary OA is associated with the following factors:

  • Trauma, including sports injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries associated with certain occupations (like the performing arts, construction or assembly line work, computer keyboard operation, etc.)
  • Repeated episodes of gout or septic arthritis
  • Poor posture or bone alignment caused by developmental abnormalities
  • Metabolic disorders.

 

 

 

   

   

This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.

Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis.

Arthritis-Symptom.com is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

Where we get our information.

Most of the information in the site is compiled by editors from information provided by the National Institutes of Health. We are in the process of updating our pages. In the past we have not made reference to the source for information provide by our editors. In the next few weeks we hope to have all our pages marked as to the source.

We have included information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Pages that uses information from this source are so acknowledged.

We have contributing authors that send information. Where information is provided by an outside author it is acknowledged by a byline under the title.

Updates of Pages.

Not all of our pages have a date as to the last update. We are in the processes of reviewing all our pages and as we do we include a reference as to when the page was updated. This web site was first published in January of 2003. All pages in the site were created at sometime during or after that time.