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Although the final cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, there are certain factors that are directly related to the gradual deterioration of the joint:
Age. The wear and tear due to the use of the joints increase as they get older.
Obesity. The increase in body weight is an important factor in the development of osteoarthritis, especially in the lower spine, the hips, and the knees. The greater the weight, the higher the burden on these structures, and the greater the wear and tear.
Injury or excessive use. Athletes, and people with jobs that require that they make repetitive movements, have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. It is what happens to professional footballers who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, or the pneumatic drill operators, from osteoarthritis of the elbow and wrist.
Genetics. This plays a role in the development of osteoarthritis, especially in the hands, where the mechanical overload is not as evident as in other structures like the knees. This is shown in many ways. The hereditary anomalies affect the form and stability of the joints, and may lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Thus, people with bowlegs have more chances of developing osteoarthritis of the knee, due to the abnormal distribution of the weight on the joint.
Physical activity. Studies carried out on the knee show that strengthening exercises of the thigh muscles (especially quadriceps and hamstring musculature) are important for reducing the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Other diseases. Any disease that alters the joints, such as arthritis, can cause early damage to the cartilage and produce osteoarthritis in the joint earlier.