Attack the Risk Factors-Joint


Rigorous scientific inquiry has identified major risk factors that make individuals vulnerable to joint disease. 

 Age: Damned by age! Age is a well-documented risk factor for chronic joint disease, especially osteoarthritis. A majority of individuals over the age of sixty- five have X-ray findings consistent with arthritis in one or more joint. As we age, the accumulation of oxidative stress and wear and tear takes its toll on the cartilage, synovium, and subchondral bone. The joint components are plagued by insufficient energy production, limited ability for self-repair and healthy growth, structural disorganization, and an external environment dominated by tissue-destroying enzymes and free radicals.

 Obesity: The link between obesity and osteoarthritis has long been recognized. This association makes a lot of intuitive sense. The more excess weight your joints feel, the more likely your joints will be injured. As you well know, lifting something really heavy puts you at more risk of hurting your back than lifting something really light. Additionally, fat induces chronic inflammation. Fat is not metabolically inactive. Rather, fat cells continuously release pro-inflammatory chemical signals called adipokines. Adipokines catalyze whole-body inflammation that triggers a destructive state inside the joint.

 Inflammation: Chronic low-grade inflammation sows rampant joint dysfunction that promotes disease development, disease magnification, and disease progression. Inflammation attacks all the vital components within the joint such as the cartilage, synovium, and subchondral bone. The inflammation-generated chemical mediators trigger the production of tissue-annihilating enzymes that degrade and destroy the joint.

 Injury: Joint injury is a major risk factor for chronic joint disease. For instance, a significant knee injury increases the risk of osteoarthritis more than fourfold. Types of major injuries include: cartilage tear, ligament injury, broken bone, joint dislocation, meniscal injury, herniated disc, muscle injury, and tendon injury. Furthermore, subtle micro trauma to the joint due to overuse and abnormal movement patterns can trigger chronic joint dysfunction. Certain professions that require excessive typing or arduous labor over prolonged periods of time have been associated with chronic joint disease. The end result for both mechanisms is occult or overt joint instability, weakness, abnormal force concentration, self-perpetuating re-injury, and chronic inflammation.

 Gender: Compared to men, women have a significantly higher risk of developing chronic joint disease, especially inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis of the knee and hand. Many factors likely contribute; however, some seem to play an important role: gender-specific sex hormone profile, postmenopausal remodeling of cartilage, lower volumes of cartilage, muscle weakness, poor lower limb mechanical alignment, higher rates of obesity, and higher likelihood of a hyperactive immune system.

 Genetics: Certain types of chronic joint disease seem to have a heritable component, with family history increasing the likelihood of disease. However, chronic joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are not a single gene disorder, but rather have a complex genetic pattern with many factors influencing the degree of disease manifestation. Furthermore, scientific studies have repeatedly highlighted the significant effect of lifestyle and behavior on gene expression. Thus, even if you have bad genes, it doesn’t mean you will have bad joints.

The 10 Pillars of Joint Health strategies were designed to attack the risk factors associated with joint disease and to provide a smart and easy approach to promote joint vitality.








 Lucas J. Bader MD

Learn more about the doctor here.