Osteoarthritis – Factors That Cause It Degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, is related to the breakdown of the cartilage in a joint. If you reach up and feel the top of your ear, the hard material inside of the skin is cartilage. In normal joints, cartilage is the rubbery, yet firm matter that cushions, protects and coats the end of the bones with a degree of elasticity. The main function of cartilage is to decrease the friction between the joints and basically absorb shock. When someone has osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the joints to lose that vital elasticity characteristic and it becomes stiff, making the cartilage vulnerable to damage.
As the Condition Worsens
The cartilage can also wear down in some spots, therefore decreasing the shock absorbency tremendously. The more the cartilage wears away, the more the ligaments and the tendons that depend on the cartilage for support stretch. When the tendons and ligaments stretch more than they should because the cartilage is no longer supporting them like it should, the osteoarthritis patient feels pain. Additionally, if the condition continues to get worse, the cartilage will not be able to protect the bones from rubbing against each other, causing extreme pain and a diminished ability to move.
Factors of Osteoarthritis
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. The following are some of the factors:
• Heredity – People can actually inherit defective genes which are responsible for creating the cartilage in the body. These genes can cause the cartilage to grow flawed, which ends up deteriorating the joints rapidly. Some people are born with abnormalities of the joints; others are born with spine abnormalities. These people are more likely to develop osteoarthritis where their abnormalities are.
• Obesity – People who are overweight have an increased chance of developing osteoarthritis of the back, knees or hips. Weight loss will not only prevent osteoarthritis, it will also stall the disease from progressing.
• Age – While age is a factor in osteoarthritis, this does not mean that because you are getting old, you are going to have osteoarthritis.
• Joint Overuse – The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases if you overuse particular joints with repetitive motions. To provide an example of this, people who are constantly bending down and lifting things at work may wear down the cartilage around their knees.
• Injury – People who have experienced injuries of their joints due to accidents, work-related activity, or sports may be prone to developing osteoarthritis of the affected area. Additionally, people who have experienced a broken bone that is positioned close to a joint may also be predisposed to developing osteoarthritis.
Basically, in order to prevent yourself from developing osteoarthritis, you should take the factors that contribute to this disease seriously. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that will affect you the rest of your life, and while it may not necessarily be painful in the beginning, you can expect to experience at least mild discomfort and no matter what your orthopedic surgeon can do for you, you cannot reverse the disease. Try to remember that you want to protect the cartilage in your body so that it can continue to provide your bones the cushioning and lubrication that they need to continue to work properly the rest of your life.
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