You may have even wondered if that was what old age had in store for you. Were you witnessing what it would be like for you? When you're young, it seems many years away, so the tendency is not to worry. But as you grow older, is osteoarthritis what's facing you? Is there a 100% chance that you will develop osteoarthritis at some point in your life? Does everyone develop osteoarthritis?
Common But Not Inevitable
Osteoarthritis is common, but the disease is not inevitable. While there are about 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis, it is possible for a person to live their entire life without developing the condition. That's including the elderly. It has been established that approximately 70% of people over the age of 65 have x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis, but not all of them experience symptoms.
Not Solely Related to the Aging Process
The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, but it is not simply a normal part of aging. While certain cellular processes that occur with aging may cause osteoarthritis in some people, it has been suggested that there is more responsible for arthritic changes to cartilage and joints. An inflammatory process has been mentioned and studied.
Certain Factors Increase Risk of Osteoarthritis
There are risk factors associated with osteoarthritis. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you will develop the disease. For example, if have a family history of osteoarthritis, you are at increased risk of developing the disease. If you have had a joint injury or are overweight, your risk of developing osteoarthritis is greater. Some risk factors are modifiable (e.g., being overweight) while others are not (e.g., genetics). While these factors increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis, you can develop the disease even if you have none of the recognized risk factors.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone develops osteoarthritis. It is not an inevitable condition. Risk factors increase the likelihood you will develop osteoarthritis, but people can develop the disease who have none of the known risk factors.
Managing Arthritis: Q & A's. Longevity. Foundations of Wellness. UC Berkeley. Accessed 11/27/2011.
Osteoarthritis of the Hip. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon. July 2007.