What Causes Arthritis?

Have you been searching for what causes arthritis? Wanting to understand the causes of arthritis symptoms is understandable. It is the most common joint disease. Over 350 million people worldwide suffer from the over 100 different types of the disease. For now, we’ll address the most common type of arthritis symptoms, osteoarthritis.

What are the causes of arthritis?

There is no one cause of the disease but there are a number of variables that can effect its development. Often the development of the disease involves a combination of factors.

woman with arthritis pain


Osteoarthritis rates increase as we get older, specifically after the age of 50. As we age, our cartilage becomes more brittle, less hydrated, and less able to repair itself. Thus as we get older, we are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Generally men have a higher incidence under the age of 55 and women over the age of 55. Although age may not specifically cause arthritis, the incidence of arthritis symptoms increases as we age.


Increase joint stress causes increased wear and tear on the joint, increasing the likelihood of developing arthritis, specifically in weight bearing joints.

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Being that arthritis is common as we age, the exact role of genetics is unclear. Genetics may not be a specific cause of arthritis but in can potentially increase the your susceptibility to developing the disease.

Illness or Infection

Infection of the joint can lead to early degenerative changes in joint cartilage. Other illnesses (such as gout) can also increase the rate of joint changes and result in arthritis development.

Previous Injury

Previous trauma, specifically to the cartilage of the joint, can increase the risk and speed of arthritis development. In joints such as the knee where cartilage tears are common, the removal of a portion of the cartilage reduces the ability of the cartilage to absorb force, thus increasing stress on the joint over time. Injuries to the ligaments that support joint can lead to joint instability. This in turn can increase the amount of movement across the joint surface, accelerating joint wear and tear.

Joint Overuse/Repetitive Trauma

Increased activity of specific joints adds to the wear and tear of those joints. For instance, a tile installer that spends significant time kneeling and squatting is likely to have an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

In addition, muscles act like shock absorbers for joints. When muscles are weak, joints bear the stress of forces such as ground reaction force. Thus a lack of muscle strength can lead to greater joint stress, increasing the rate of wear on the articular cartilage.

What causes arthritis? A lot of things. Some variables can be influence, some cannot. Take control of your situation and use this information to your benefit.

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