Osteoarthritis (OA) is a classic age-related disorder. It is often described as a chronic degenerative disease and thought by many to be an inevitable consequence of growing old. In OA, degradation and loss of the articular cartilage is a central feature that is sometimes attributed to “wear and tear”.
Though old age is considered a risk factor of osteoarthritis, the joint disease is not something just to be expected as people age, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).
Aging changes the bone structure, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis as people age, according to the NIH, and aging joint tissue also contributes to the risk of osteoarthritis.
It is more likely that someone will suffer from osteoarthritis as they get older – into their 70s and 80s – because their bodies have been used more, according to Premier Health Specialists’ (PHS) physicians. But, people in their 40s and 50s also can have the joint disease, which makes age a contributing factor but not a specific cause.
Although older age is the greatest risk factor for osteoarthritis (OA), OA is not an inevitable consequence of growing old. Radiographic changes of OA, particularly osteophytes, are common in the aged population, but symptoms of joint pain may be independent of radiographic severity in many older adults.