Archive for the ‘Osteoarthritis Risk Factors’ Category
The diathesis stress model was originally introduced as a way of explaining why some people developed mental disorders and others did not. Mental disorders could not be fully explained by genes or by experience, and so the diathesis stress model effectively described the contributions of both components. Essentially, the diathesis stress model states that some combination of environmental and genetic can lead to pathology. If the environmental stress (the oil in the glass) is added to the genetic vulnerability (the water in the glass) and it reaches a threshold, then the individual will develop the pathology.
This model can easily be applied to osteoarthritis. Each person has a specific genetic make-up that can affect their vulnerability to osteoarthritis; they might have dense bones, weak cartilage, or a predisposition for obesity.
What is important here, is to understand the relationship between a genetic predisposition and environmental stress. Since genetic code cannot be altered, the only thing within our power is to minimize the risk factors we develop. If we act to stay light, fit, active, and healthy, onset of osteoarthritis may be delayed or even avoided entirely.
One common risk factor for knee osteoarthritis is a history of severe knee injury. The connection between injury and osteoarthritis is often associated with direct damage to the cartilage or bones of the knee. This is not the only way that osteoarthritis can develop after injury. Any trauma to the knee can lead to inflammation, which increases pressure in the joint space and lead to osteoarthritis. Severe trauma often has secondary effects like inactivity and obesity, which are well-documented risk factors.
There is extensive evidence suggesting that injury to a ligament (like the ACL) can lead to osteoarthritis. Only recently, however, have we begun to understand the connection between osteoarthritis and ACL reconstruction surgery. Research at the University of Queensland examining the long term health of patients with ACL reconstruction surgeries found that, not only were they more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, but they were also far more likely to need knee joint replacements. In fact, people who underwent knee surgery developed osteaorthritis up to 15 years earlier than those who had not.
So remember that surgery is not a miracle cure. It is a controlled application of extreme trauma. It certainly has applications in which it can provide life-changing help, but it is not a blanket solution for all. So before undergoing elective surgery, check all of your options, and try a non-invasive treatment first.
Osteoarthritis is far more common in individuals with a history of traumatic joint injury. This is why athletes often develop osteoarthritis of the knee later in life. It is important to distinguish between the normal wear of exercise and the accumulation of small injuries. Healthy work-outs do not increase the risk of osteoarthritis, but those who push their joints beyond their limits may cause long-term injuries.
Recent work by Dr. Cruz of the University of Guelph examines the progression from a single traumatic event to the development of osteoarthritis. Dr. Cruz specifically wanted to know if damage to cartilage, bone, or both, led to more severe symptoms after the immediate healing had been completed. This research showed that even after a therapeutic exercise regimen, damage to cartilage and bone did not heal. This means that severe, single-event injuries may have long-term effects, even after immediate treatment.
This is important because it means that some knee pain may not heal naturally. Damage to cartilage and bone may kill the blood supply to an area and eliminate its potential for healing. If you have a severe knee injury, it may not be enough to wait for the swelling and pain to subside. Consult your physician and check if more serious treatment may be necessary.
A risk factor is a description of a characteristic of a group that is prone to a particular disease or disorder. Having one or more risk factors does not guarantee the presence of the disease, and their absence does not ensure good health. The identification of risk factors is important because it can identify traits or groups of individuals that are at elevated risk, and so require more frequent and more thorough examination.
Women and the elderly are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. Other well known risk factors include poor diet, inactivity, prior joint injury, and a family history of osteoarthritis. Recent research by a Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Losina, suggests that ethnicity may also be related to osteoarthritis risk. Dr. Losina found that female minorities were at higher risk for osteoarthritis than caucasian females. Further, female minorities with osteoarthritis were more likely to need joint replacement surgery.
These are not absolutes. Many individuals with all risk factors never develop osteoarthritis. There are many risk factors that are beyond your control, like age, ethnicity, family history, and gender. But if you are at elevated risk of developing osteoarthritis because of poor nutrition or lack of exercise, it’s time to change your habits. It might even save you from surgery.
A recent article in a European journal confirms that type II diabetes is an independent risk factor for severe osteoarthritis. We already know obesity can make osteoarthritis worse, and that obesity can lead to type II diabetes. But we are only learning now that the metabolic effects of type II diabetes may lead directly to ostoearthritis. More importantly, Dr. Schett, the author of the paper, claims that type II diabetes makes it harder to treat osteoarthritis. Dr. Schett found that osteoarthritis patients with type II diabetes had dramatically reduced the benefits from arthroplastic surgery.
Diabetic patients with osteoarthritis of the knee had increased swelling in the joint space when compared to non-diabetic people of the same age and BMI. This suggests that the systemic effects of diabetes make osteoarthritis worse by increasing the stress on the cartilage. It would be like adding 50 pounds of extra pressure to a joint already supporting a body above its weight-class.
This is not all bad news. In many ways, this simplifies the treatment of osteoarthritis in patients with type II diabetes. It means that instead of treating two conditions at the same time, treating the diabetes may help with the osteoarthritis directly. It also means that addressing unhealthy eating habits, a well-known cause of type II diabetes, could be the only treatment necessary. Weight-losing lifestyle changes may be the only way to a healthy body. Not just on the surface, but for your bones, joints, and cartilage as well.
Studies have shown that knee osteoarthritis is 4 to 5 times more prominent in obese individuals. Knee osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in a joint. By losing weight and reducing the stress placed on the joint, it is possible to slow the cartilage destruction. For every 10lbs of weight lost it is possible to reduce the strain on the joint by 30-50lbs. Weight loss can cause a staggering reduction in pressure and can decrease knee pain immensely.
Low impact exercise routines reduce the joint stress associated with body weight, while allowing you to lose weight. Start slow with a workout that challenges you, yet does not cause pain. Proper diet and exercise can provide the necessary jumpstart to a knee pain free lifestyle.
Hemochromatosis is a disorder where the body absorbs too much iron from the gastrointestinal tract. It occurs when too much iron builds up in the body. This is a genetic condition that is usually inherited.
Having too much iron in the blood can damage cartilage and the ability of joints to repair themselves. Hemochromatosis is a risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis.
Acromegaly is a condition involving the growth hormone (GH). GH controls the growth of soft tissue and bones. Elevated GH can lead to serious complications and early death if left untreated. Acromegaly is a risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis.
A benign tumor in the pituitary gland usually causes increased GH levels but malignant tumors in the pancreas and lungs can also be culprits.
A sedentary lifestyle is a serious risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis. When you do not exercise your joints become stiff. Joints require lubrication to function and exercise increases lubrication. Also muscles become stronger when you exercise, they atrophy when you don’t. The anatomy surrounding your knee must be strong to prevent and treat osteoarthritis. A sedentary lifestyle can not only make your osteoarthritis worse but it can also lead to a host of other health problems.
If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Repetitive stress on the knees can also be a risk factor for osteoarthritis. Certain occupations, specifically jobs that involve kneeling or squatting, and excessive walking and lifting are susceptible to knee osteoarthritis. Carpet installers, floor layers, dock workers, and shipyard workers are some examples of occupations that are at high risk.