Some factors that increase your risk of osteoarthritis—such as heredity, age, and gender—are beyond your control. However, you can control other lifestyle factors—such as obesity, overuse, and posture.

Family History

Osteoarthritis (OA) tends to run in families, so you may be more likely to develop the condition if your parents or siblings have OA. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that can trigger OA.


Osteoarthritis is directly connected to the wear and tear on bodies (and specifically cartilage) over the course of time.


Osteoarthritis is equally common in men and women before age 55. After the age of 55, women are significantly more likely to be diagnosed.

Previous Injury

People who have injured a joint in the past, perhaps while riding a bike or playing a sport, are more likely to develop OA in that joint.


Being overweight or obese puts increased stress and strain on the body and increases the risk of osteoarthritis in the joints, particularly the knees, hips, and spine. However, obesity can also cause OA in non-weight bearing joints like the hands. This suggests that excess weight not only puts mechanical stress on the joints but that excess weight results in the production of chemical mediators that circulate through the blood and cause adverse effects throughout the body.


Repetitive actions can put undue stress on joints (think of cyclists, ballet dancers, and construction workers) and increase the risk for OA in those overused areas.

Poor Posture

The strain and stress from years of sitting or standing improperly can increase your risk of OA.

Other Types of Arthritis

Other types of arthritis, such as gout, septic arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.

Other Medical Conditions

Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, can cause bleeding in your joints, which in turn can increase the risk for OA. Conditions that block the flow of blood near a joint, such as avascular necrosis (osteoncrosis), may also increase your risk. Paget’s disease of the bone can cause bone to weaken, leaving it more susceptible to arthritis.