Osteoarthritis affects us all

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Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis

The exact causes of osteoarthritis are still not well known, but there are risk factors that contribute to the development of this disease.


Osteoarthritis becomes more frequent as you grow older. While only 3% of people under the age of 45 show signs of radiological osteoarthritis, this percentage reaches 65% for those over 65 and 80% for people over 80 years of age.

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Osteoarthritis of the fingers and knee are more common in females. There has also been an increase in the incidence of osteoarthritis after menopause.


A study of the distribution of osteoarthritis in twins has shown that genetic factors play a role in osteoarthritis of the hand and knee. Thus, a woman has a higher risk of developing finger osteoarthritis (also called digital osteoarthritis) if her mother, aunt or grandmother is affected by the disease.

No scientific proof has yet been established for the other joints.


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Some at birth morphological abnormalities (such as dysplasia or subluxations) can cause osteoarthritis because the joint (essentially that of the hip or the knee) does not work smoothly.


obesite-(2).jpgExcess weight causes high mechanical stresses especially on the knee and hip (load-bearing joints). The greater the weight, the greater the risk of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee later in life. In case of overweight, one is strongly advised to lose at least 10% of their weight and to reduce by 30% their previous caloric intake.

A link between obesity and osteoarthritis of the fingers has also been demonstrated.


Professional Activities

Some occupations require lifting heavy loads (e.g. movers) or repeatedly flexing the knees (e.g. tilers) and therefore promote osteoarthritis of these joints.

Some workers are therefore more at risk for osteoarthritis.


Due to trauma, but also overwork, some sports lead to an increased risk of osteoarthritis.

For instance, soccer and rugby are more harmful to the knees, while dancing targets the hips and baseball affects the elbows and shoulders.


Joint trauma

Major trauma such as fractures and dislocations, but also minor incidents, increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Thus, studies have shown that 5 to 10 years after having their meniscus removed out of their knee, patients were much more likely to suffer from gonarthrosis on the operated side (21% versus 5%).

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent some of these risks, for example by having a healthy lifestyle.
Keep an eye on your diet and exercise regularly (30 minutes of fast walking is recommended daily).
Your body was made to move, do not forget it!
Translated from French by G. Johnen, 1st year Master's student in translation at the ULg.