Do only elderly people get osteoarthritis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Osteoarthritis (OA) does not only occur in the elderly, but the condition is more common with age. This is because OA is often caused by years of wear and tear on the joints.

More than a third of people age 65 and older have osteoarthritis. However, it can occur in younger people after an injury, if they are obese or have a family history of the disease. Just because someone is elderly doesn't mean they will get OA. Staying in shape by being physically active and eating right may help prevent OA.

Exactly how the aging process contributes to the risk of osteoarthritis is not known, but of all factors contributing to osteoarthritis, age is the most important one. By age 65, more than 80 percent of Americans have some signs of osteoarthritis on x-rays, but only about one-half of these people experience symptoms.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The older you get, the more likely you are to have osteoarthritis (OA), but OA does not affect only the elderly. Most people with OA begin to gradually experience symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness in one or more joints in their 40s. But you may experience osteoarthritis symptoms earlier, especially if you've had a joint injury, are overweight or obese, or have a family history of arthritis. Although almost all elderly people have some form of arthritis, many people escape the disease until they're older than 60.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.