Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and often reduced mobility. Although it can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Several factors increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis:
• Age: The risk of OA increases with age.
• Sex: Women are more likely to develop OA than men.
• Obesity: Carrying extra body weight contributes to OA, especially in the knees.
• Joint Injuries: Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk of OA.
• Genetics: Some people inherit a tendency to develop OA.
• Occupation: Jobs that require repetitive stress on a particular joint may lead to OA in that joint.
While it’s not entirely possible to prevent OA, some measures can reduce your risk:
• Maintain a Healthy Weight: Keeping your weight within a healthy range reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
• Stay Active: Regular physical activity helps keep joints flexible and strengthens the muscles that support and stabilize your joints.
• Avoid Repetitive Strain on Joints: Try to avoid activities that put repetitive stress on joints.
Myths, Misconceptions, and Facts
Myth: Osteoarthritis is a normal part of aging and can’t be treated.
Fact: While risk increases with age, OA is not a normal part of aging and treatment can help manage symptoms and improve function.
Myth: People with osteoarthritis should avoid exercise.
Fact: Exercise is beneficial for managing symptoms and improving joint function.
Myth: Only overweight people get osteoarthritis.
Fact: While obesity is a risk factor, many factors, including age, sex, and genetics, also contribute to the development of OA.