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By dr Andrew Wassef,

Contributing writer

More than 32.5 million US adults have osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease most common in older adults. More than 50% of adults older than 65 are affected by osteoarthritis – which is when the tissue in the joint breaks down over time. Simply put, it’s years of “wear and tear” on your joints catching up to you.

Andrew J. Wassef serves as the medical director of the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of MemorialCare)

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hands, lower back, neck and weight-bearing joints, such as hips and knees. Essentially, these are the joints you use for daily activities such as walking, standing, driving and more.

The risk of developing osteoarthritis in joints like the knee is about 46% and developing osteoarthritis in the hip is 25%, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

What happens is that the joint cartilage breaks down because of stress or changes within the body, causing the bone underneath to fail.

Some of the ways that osteoarthritis can be triggered are:

  • Age: The older you become, the higher the chances of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Being overweight or obese: This can put stress on your joints. The extra weight puts pressure specifically on weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees.
  • History of injury or overuse: Repetitive stress on a joint can damage it and increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Family history of osteoarthritis: Those who have a family member with osteoarthritis are also more likely to develop it.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men, especially after they turn 50.

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