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Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

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The more you know about your health, the better prepared you are to make informed healthcare decisions. Our health library gives you the information you need to take charge of your health.

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop osteoarthritis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

You have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis if you have or have had:

  • Past injury to a joint
  • Previous surgery to the joint
  • History of infection in a joint
  • Inherited abnormalities of the joint
  • Weakness of muscles around a joint
  • Acromegaly (a pituitary disorder)
  • Paget’s disease of bone

Increasing age puts you at increased risk for osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men.

Osteoarthritis tends to run in families.

You are more likely to develop osteoarthritis if you:

  • Are overweight or obese—risk of osteoporosis increases with increasing body weight
  • Work at a job or participate intensely in an athletic pursuit that requires a lot of lifting, squatting, or repetitive joint use

Revision Information

  • Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/osteoarthritis. Accessed July 23, 2013.

  • Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. Updated July 2010. Accessed July 23, 2013.

  • Sinusas, K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(1):49-56.

  • 9/3/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Zhou ZY, Liu YK, et al. Body mass index and knee osteoarthritis risk: A dose-response meta-analysis. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Jul [Epub ahead of print].