Causes of Osteoarthritis and Spinal Arthritis

There are a number of reasons why some people are particularly disposed to osteoarthritis. However, as with nearly all abnormal conditions affecting the body, it is likely that a combination of risk factors work together to cause osteoarthritis.

Repetitive trauma to the spine from repetitive strains caused by accidents, surgery, sports injuries, poor posture, or work-related activities are common causes of spinal arthritis.

Risk Factors for Spinal Arthritis

Athletes and people with jobs that require repetitive, and particularly heavy, motion have been found to be at greater risk. Other known risk factors for developing spinal arthritis include:

  • Aging: steady and advanced aging of spinal structures, beginning in the 30s, often work-related
  • Gender: osteoarthritis being more common in post-menopausal women (although below age 45, it is more common in males)
  • Excess weight: causing more stress on weight-bearing joints and the spine, particularly during the middle age years
  • Genetics: having a family history of osteoarthritis or congenital defects of joints, spine, or leg abnormalities
  • Associated diseases: the presence of other associated diseases, infections, diabetes, and various other forms of circulating arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
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When a specific cause of the osteoarthritis is unknown, as it is in most cases, it is referred to as primary osteoarthritis, which appears to be mostly due to aging. Aging leads to changes in cartilage and synovial fluid, as the tissue water content increases as the protein content decreases.

Long-term repetitive joint use has been shown to lead to joint inflammation with associated joint pain and swelling, eventually leading to the loss of cartilage.

When the cause of the osteoarthritis is known, it is referred to as secondary osteoarthritis, caused by a particular disease or condition, such as obesity, trauma or surgery to the joints, or abnormal joints at birth.

Importance of Treating Osteoarthritis

Patients with osteoarthritis who take an active role in their own treatment can prevent additional joint damage and usually will be able to continue with most of their normal activities.

The key to managing the condition is to get an accurate diagnosis and start early, proactive treatment. Most osteoarthritis treatments are focused on reducing the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and maintaining the joint mobility and flexibility needed to continue with necessary and desired activities.

It is clear that a combination of proper exercise, joint mobility, weight control, nutrition, and use of appropriate medication is required to control osteoarthritis.