Am I at Risk for Knee Arthritis? Five Factors to Know

Orthopaedic & Spine Center
Dr. John Burrow discusses knee arthritis with a patient

John D. Burrow, DO

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is a very common malady and is seen in folks as young as their twenties, but is more usually observed in middle age and beyond. It’s the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, which causes cartilage degeneration, swelling, stiffness and pain.  Statistics say that about 45% of us will be impacted by knee OA during our lives and it’s one of the leading causes of chronic disability in the United States.   

While no one knows for sure what causes knee arthritis, there are risk factors that may indicate your chances of getting OA are greater.  They are as follows:

  1. Age – The longer you live, the more likely you are to get arthritis in your knees.  The knee joints work hard for us every day, and their use is required for us to stand, walk, sit, and for pretty much any work, activity or sport. 
  2. Gender – If you are a woman, you are more likely to develop knee OA than a man.  Again, researchers are not exactly sure why.  Some contend that a woman’s pelvis is shaped differently for childbirth and that a woman’s thigh bones extend from her hips at a sharper angle than a man’s, which in turn puts more stress on her knee joints.
  3. Obesity – If you are obese or even overweight, you’re putting extra stress on your knee joints, which can lead to the development of osteoarthritis.  Staying obese or overweight can lead to further joint deterioration. Obesity itself is highly inflammatory to the body as fat tissues release proteins which can harm the joints over time.
  4. Genetics – If your parents had knee osteoarthritis, chances are, you will too.  Conversely, if your parents had healthy knee joints, you stand a better chance of having knee joints that don’t hurt and cause dysfunction as you age, if you control your weight and avoid injury.
  5. Kneeling or Squatting Occupations/Sports – Carpet-layers, Weight-lifters, Plumbers, Electricians, Miners, Railroad or Shipyard Workers – these are just a few of the folks who can expect to have problems with their knees later in life.  There is a proven correlation between repetitive kneeling and/or squatting and the development of knee osteoarthritis.