What are the causes of degenerative arthritis? Before knowing that let us find out what degenerative arthritis is. Degenerative arthritis is more commonly known as osteoarthritis. This is a condition when the cartilages between the bones of the joints simply wear out, break down or degenerate.
This then opens the bones to friction against one another and it then starts degeneration of the bones. In this condition the person suffers not only from pain, but also from restricted movement of the joints.
Now, let us look into the causes that lead to such a condition. It is not a disease for which one single specific cause can be pinpointed. While some factors may bring about the condition in a person, they may not be same for another. But the experts have basically attributed the disease to the causes of two basic natures – lifestyle and genetics, apart from others.
Common Causes of Degenerative Arthritis
Injury and Overuse of the Joints
This is a factor where genes may not be involved. Some people need to use a particular set of joints repetitively. And they hardly give any rest to these joints. So constant use of these joints may eventually wear them away and that may result in degeneration of the cartilage and eventually lead to degenerative arthritis. Similarly, a joint may get injured due to some accident and from then onwards it carries the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
The people who do heavy physical work (like the athletes) run the risk of developing this disease as they can face numerous small and grave injuries to their tendons, ligaments and cartilages all through their career. Similarly where a person needs to bend on his or her knees repeatedly may also develop this condition at a later stage in life.
Overweight is a problem that can lead to osteoarthritis. The parts that bear most of the weight of the body are the knees and the hips. A person who is overweight puts additional pressure on these joints. The normal calculation is for every pound (approx. 450 gm) of weight gain an additional 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of weight is exerted on the knees and the hips get an additional burden of over 6 pounds or around 2.5 kg. It does not need much elaboration that this additional burden slowly breaks down the cartilage and then erodes away the bones of these joints leading to osteoarthritis.
Sometimes obesity is also associated to the arthritis of the hand joints. However, there is no proper reason for weight acting on these joints because these are not weight bearing joints. But some experts believe that some inflammatory chemicals are released by the excess fat tissue which in turn leads to stiffening of the hand joints.
Obesity is a condition that can have relation to both lifestyle and genetics. Some people carry genes where they tend to put up fat easily leading to overweight. However, some food and drinks can cause fat deposition and too much intake of them can lead to obesity which can later cause osteoarthritis.
This is considered one of the possible causes of degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis. It may happen that some genes responsible for production of a protein called collagen, malfunction. Collagen is responsible for making up cartilage and its less production leads to weakening of the cartilage structure. So, these people, who show this type of abnormal gene behavior, may face osteoarthritis at a very early age even if they are within the proper weight range and not into stressful activities involving the joints. Sometimes the condition is seen as early as at the age of 20.
Sometimes genes are responsible for improper bone formation or improper bone alignment. In both these conditions the person may not feel any problem in normal movements. But their cartilage lining breaks down easily due to this deformity and they may get osteoarthritis quite early in their life. In one condition the joints bend more than they are supposed to bend. Such condition is called Double Jointedness or Joint Laxity and the people having them fall easy victims to degenerative arthritis.
However, genetic reasons alone may not actually lead to osteoarthritis. It is often supplemented by lifestyle and habits of people. One of the bad habits is smoking. It contributes to malfunctioning of the body and can become one of the indirect reasons for degenerative arthritis.
Apart from all the above causes, a person may get the condition due to other reasons too. Other disorders of the bones and joints like rheumatism may be a cause. Hormonal conditions may also be responsible. Hemochromatosis or the condition where the body absorbs iron in excess proportions and Acromagaly, the condition when too much growth hormone is produced, can lead to osteoarthritis.