As we age, our bodies may not recover as quickly from strenuous activity or long periods spent sitting or standing in a single position. On those occasions, some people may feel stiffness or discomfort, but it usually passes in time. If you’re feeling chronic pain in your joints, hands, hip, knee, lower back or neck, however, you may be suffering from a condition called osteoarthritis (OA).

Causes and Risk Factors

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint, and is the result of a variety of factors – some that can be controlled and some that can’t.

Osteoarthritis generally occurs when there is an absence of cartilage, the important connective tissue that cushions the bones in our joints. When that cushion is removed, bones meet, causing pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced mobility. While it is a rare, some patients’ bodies do not produce an adequate amount of collagen, the protein that creates cartilage. Other patients may have a bone structure that breaks down their cartilage cushion more quickly.

Those factors are generally hereditary and not preventable. Other factors, however, can be managed to help prevent OA from occurring.  For example, being overweight or participating in activities that encourage repetitive movements, can increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.  The Arthritis Foundation explains:

Weight: Being overweight puts additional pressure on hips and knees. Many years of carrying extra pounds can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster. Research has shown there is a link between being overweight and having an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the hands. These studies suggest that excess fat tissue produces inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) that can damage the joints.

Injury and overuse: Repetitive movements or injuries to joints (such as a fracture, […]