Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the bones mainly caused due to wear and tear of the joints over a period of time. Though arthritis in general is associated with inflammation of the joints, osteoarthritis falls under the non-inflammatory type.
The condition usually develops in people above 50 years of age and is characterised by damage of the cartilage in bone joints. Loss of cartilage increases friction between bones leading to pain.
Major Causes of Osteoarthritis
Wear and Tear of Joints
Due to aging and prolonged use of joints, the cartilage tissues degenerate due to alteration in protein make up. Presence of cartilage in the joints serves to absorb the shock and support the bones. This is very true especially for weight bearing joints. Due to osteoarthritis tiny crevices are formed in cartilaginous tissue and in advanced condition there is total loss of the cartilage.
Excess Body Weight or Obesity
Next to ageing, obesity is found to be the major cause for osteoarthritis, especially of the knees. Obese people are put at more risk as their joints are strained due to the excess body weight. The damage is evident mostly in the weight-bearing joints like the knees and the hip.
Low Levels of Physical Activity
Low physical activity over a period of time will make the joints immobile and the related muscles will lose flexibility. Under use will make the joints stiff, dysfunctional and more prone to osteoarthritis.
Certain genetic disorders like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome interferes with synthesis of collagen a protein glue that holds the tissues of the cartilage. This disorder can weaken the cartilage leading to osteoarthritis.
Diseases like diabetes, gout, hypothyroidism etc creates hormonal as well as chemical changes in the body which will lead to osteoarthritis. The hormonal changes due to diabetes and the loss of sensation due to prolonged diabetic condition will make the person less sensible to pain in the joints which will make detection of osteoarthritis difficult.
In persons with gout, the damage to the cartilage occurs due to deposit of uric acid crystals. Another condition called pseudo gout is also known to be a causative factor for osteoarthritis as this induces deposits of calcium pyrophosphate crystals on the cartilage leading to its damage.
Some people are born with physical abnormalities called congential abnormalities which cause increased wear and tear of the related joints. The osteoarthritis of the hip bones is mostly caused by such abnormalities. Certain people have varying lengths of their leg and repeated walking by adjusting the legs will lead to damage of the joints and related tissues.
After a traumatic injury to the bones, like a major fracture, chances are that the bones are not aligned properly during the course of treatment. This improper line-up of the bones will cause mechanical wear and tear in the course of time and lead to damage of the cartilage, causing osteoarthritis.
Intake of diet with lesser amount of calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D over a period of time can also cause osteoarthritis.