Osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as OA, is a condition that occurs when the cartilage, found on the ‘cap’ or ends of the bones, begins to break down or degenerate.
The breakdown of the protective cartilage leads to damage of the underlying tissues and bones. When the cartilage is no longer able to protect and cushion the joints, the joints become painful and inflamed.
What causes Osteoarthritis?
Cartilage is constantly replacing itself as new cells replace old cells. When the new cells become unable to keep up with the death of the old cells and the cartilage breakdown occurs faster than the cartilage repair then the result is osteoarthritis.
As we age, this problem becomes more challenging. For many people, the progression of osteoarthritis can be attributed to a family history of osteoarthritis or an injury to a joint.
Other components that may contribute to osteoarthritis:
- Excessive weight: One pound of body weight equals three pounds of stress at the knee joint. Studies show that weight loss can decrease the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
- Joint trauma: A single major injury or several minor joint injuries may result in cartilage changes over time.
- Muscle weakness: If the muscles are weak, the stress on the joints increases and can result in cartilage break down over time.
- Joint malalignment: When a joint is not aligned correctly or is looser than normal there is an increased load to the cartilage along with greater wear and tear.
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