Am I at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

Am I at Risk for Osteoarthritis?

Our team at Yale Neurosurgery New London, led by neurosurgeon Dr. Patrick Doherty, specializes in patient-focused care for painful spinal conditions that threaten your mobility and overall quality of life.

We’re known for providing the highest quality treatments available for back and neck pain that’s often linked to joint changes resulting from osteoarthritis. 

We can’t prevent it entirely but can help you decrease your risk of developing, or at least slowing the progression of, this “wear-and-tear” arthritis.

Understanding osteoarthritis

Often related to aging, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the protective tissue (cartilage) covering the ends of bones within your joints to break down and wear away. This leads to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling that most often affects the hips, knees, hands, and spine.

Your spine offers plenty of space for osteoarthritis to develop since each of the mobile vertebrae in your backbone, those that stack up from your lower back to your neck, has a pair of hinge-like facet joints that facilitate spinal movement.

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation estimates that about 50% of adults over 65 have symptomatic osteoarthritis that affects their mobility.

Notably, however, joint changes related to osteoarthritis can start much earlier than that. It’s also an equal opportunity condition that affects mostly men before age 45 and mostly women after age 45.

What increases my risk of developing osteoarthritis?

While our focus at Yale Neurosurgery New London is your spine, risk factors for osteoarthritis include behaviors and conditions that place additional stress on your hips, knees, shoulders, and hands as well as your back and neck.

Along with the natural wear and tear associated with aging, risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

Repetitive motion activities

Jobs, hobbies, and sports that require frequent and repetitive lifting, kneeling, twisting at the waist, throwing, stair climbing cause increased inflammation and structural damage in your joints.

On the other hand, deconditioning and lack of physical activity can also affect joint health and increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Excess weight

Extra pounds add to the strain your weight-bearing joints experience with everyday activities. Weight-bearing joints are those that support your body weight whenever you stand, walk, or run, and include your hips, knees, ankles, and lower back.

Poor posture

When it’s related to improper body and head alignment as you watch television, work at your desk, or use your phone or tablet, poor posture is especially hard on the joints in your back and neck.

Other health concerns

Certain medical conditions increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:

Slowing the progression of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that worsens with aging. While you can’t stop time, you can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis and reduce the pain by:

If you’re struggling with back or neck pain and stiffness related to osteoarthritis, schedule an appointment with us at Yale Neurosurgery New London today. We can develop a plan for managing your joint health and reducing your symptoms. 

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