Differences Between Primary & Secondary Osteoarthritis

Orthopedist Showing Visual on Knee

There are actually two types of osteoarthritis (OA): primary and secondary. These two forms of OA have the same symptoms, but different causes.

What is osteoarthritis?

Both primary and secondary OA involve the breakdown of cartilage in joints, which causes bones to rub together. Sometimes bones grow abnormal spurs in response to cartilage breakdown. This can make joints swollen, painful and stiff.

Primary osteoarthritis:

Wear and tear on joints as people age cause primary OA. Therefore it starts showing up in people between the ages of 55 and 60. Theoretically, everyone experiences cartilage breakdown as they get older, but some cases are more severe than others.

Secondary osteoarthritis:

Secondary OA involves a specific trigger that exacerbates cartilage breakdown. Here are some of the most common triggers for secondary OA:

  • Injury: Bone fractures increase a person’s chance of developing OA and can bring about the disease earlier.
  • Obesity: According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of extra body weight places three pounds of pressure on the knees and six pounds on the hips. The weight speeds up the wear and tear of joint cartilage.
  • Inactivity: Inactivity can cause obesity and weaken the muscles. Weak muscles mean poorly aligned joints and greater risk for OA.
  • Genetics: Researchers have noticed that OA runs in families, so certain genes could also put you at risk.
  • Inflammation: Diseases that cause inflammation can also affect cartilage. One such disease is rheumatoid arthritis.
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