Who’s at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

Who’s at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body, but this degenerative form of arthritis typically develops in those joints that work the hardest, including the 30 joints in each of your feet. As you can well imagine, osteoarthritis (OA) in your feet or ankles is of particular concern given how much you rely on your lower limbs to propel you through the world.

While arthritis in all its forms, including OA, has no cure, there are plenty of ways in which we can manage and slow the disease, especially if we’re aware of your risks. To that end, the team of foot health experts here at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle outline some of the more common risks here so that we can help you take the steps necessary to reduce the risks of joint pain and inflammation.

Age and gender-related issues

Osteoarthritis (OA) is also called wear-and-tear or degenerative arthritis, in reference to the fact that the issue becomes more prevalent with age. After years of relying on the joints in your feet and ankles for mobility, the cartilage that covers the bones begins to wear down, leaving your bones unprotected.

For aging women, the problem is compounded even further thanks to a precipitous drop in reproductive hormone levels once they pass through menopause. To illustrate this gender disparity, women between 50 and 60 are 3.5 times more likely to develop OA than men.

While there’s not much we can do about age or gender, it’s important to understand the roles these two factors play in OA.

Carrying extra weight

Another significant risk factor for developing osteoarthritis is carrying too much weight. Your musculoskeletal system is designed to support a certain amount of weight, and when you add too much, your joints can wear down far more quickly.

If you want to avoid or slow OA, especially if you’re a woman or growing older, it’s important that you only carry the weight your joints are designed to handle.

Lack of movement

Another major risk factor for OA is leading a sedentary lifestyle. While we’ve just reviewed how overstressing your joints can quickly lead to OA, the same is true at the opposite end of the spectrum — not moving them enough.

Your joints are designed for movement, and they also rely on supporting soft tissues, such as your muscles, to help with the effort. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles may not be providing the support your joints need, which places all the pressure on your bones (and the cartilage that covers them).

Post-traumatic arthritis

If you’ve injured your foot or ankle in the past, note that this may make you more susceptible to post-traumatic arthritis.

One of the best ways to avoid this type of OA is to come to see us anytime you have a foot or ankle injury so that we can ensure that it heals properly the first time around.

By understanding your risks for OA and taking preventive action whenever possible, you can help keep your feet and ankles free from pain and inflammation. 

If you’d like to learn more about osteoarthritis, contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, or Lebanon, Columbia, and Pulaski, Tennessee, to set up a consultation.

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