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This article originally published on Get Healthy Stay Healthy.
Often called "wear and tear" arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the U.S. Over time, joint cartilage usually breaks down, and OA symptoms — such as joint pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness — begin to occur. OA most commonly affects the knees, hips, fingers and spine, but can also affect other areas of the body.
Are you at risk of developing this condition? Read on to find out.
- Age: Age is the strongest risk factor for OA. When OA starts in young adulthood, it is often due to joint injury.
- Gender: OA affects both men and women. Before age 45, OA occurs more frequently in men. After age 45, OA is more common in women.
- Joint injury or overuse caused by physical labor or sports: Traumatic joint injury increases your risk of developing OA in that joint. Joints used repeatedly in certain jobs may be more likely to develop OA because of injury or overuse.
- Obesity: The chances of developing OA generally increases with the amount of weight the joints have to bear. The knee is particularly affected because it’s a major weight-bearing joint.
- Joint alignment: Some people have joints that don’t move or fit together correctly, as in bowlegs, dislocated hips, or double-jointedness. These joints are more likely to develop OA.
- Heredity: An inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for manufacturing cartilage may be a contributing factor in developing OA.
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