Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Risk Factors

Glucosamine for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage that cushions the joints deteriorates.  The absence of the rubbery tissue can eventually result in the bones rubbing together; causing you pain, swelling, and stiffness.  Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most common types of Osteoarthritis (OA), with 10 million sufferers.  The knee is a weight bearing joint, which leaves it susceptible to the disease. Knee Osteoarthritis typically develops gradually over a period of years.

The two predominant risk factors for Osteoarthritis of the knee are advanced age and obesity:

Advanced Age

People of all ages can develop knee OA, however, the prevalence increases rapidly starting at the age of 45 and advancing thereafter.  Before the age of 45, OA is more common in males.  After the age of 55, it is more often seen in females.

As we age, the water content of the cartilage increases, and the protein composition of cartilage degenerates.  The cartilage begins to wear away, creating tiny crevasses or total loss of cartilage, leaving the worn joints to cause friction between the bones.  This may cause you mild to severe pain and discomfort, as well as loss of mobility.


Since the knees are weight bearing joints, excess weight can play an important role in the development of the disease.  Weight bearing joints carry the greatest risk when you are overweight or obese.  Your knees carry three to four times your body weight with each step you take.  In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, your knees are accepting a 450-600 pound weight load with every step. Nearly 2 out of 3 people who are obese will develop Osteoarthritis of the knee.  Losing even a few pounds will reduce your risk.

You may want to speak to your doctor about your knee Osteoarthritis risk factors.  Your doctor may suggest running some tests, if you haven’t been diagnosed already.  Your doctor may recommend a diet plan and exercise regimen.