How is my family history related to osteoarthritis?

People with a family history of osteoarthritis are a bit more likely to develop osteoarthritis themselves. This may be because of heritable abnormalities of the joints that make them more vulnerable. Osteoarthritis of the hand, knee and possibly of other joints tends to run in families through, it is believed, genetic transmission. For example, osteoarthritis of the joints at the fingertips occurs about three times more often among sisters than in the general population, and mutations of a gene that is associated with a severe form of osteoarthritis run in families.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Your family history counts when it come to osteoarthritis (OA). We still don't know exactly what causes OA, but we do know you can inherit a general tendency toward it. Osteoarthritis in the hands, especially in the finger joints, seems to have a strong hereditary link.

Two signs of arthritis seem to run in families, especially for women: Heberden's nodes and Bouchard's nodes, which cause painful bony swellings in the joints at the tips and middles of your fingers. If you're a woman, and your mother or grandmother had these nodes, chances are you'll develop them too.

Family history may play a role in who gets osteoarthritis (OA). Researchers have found that there is a strong link between genes and osteoarthritis. Several genes have been identified that show osteoarthritis can be inherited. More research needs to be done on genetic tendency toward obesity and how it influences osteoarthritis, how genetics physically affects the shape of the joint, and other health factors that may or may not have some bearing on risk.

It's believed that people with osteoarthritis may inherit abnormalities of the bones or cartilage that may cause the cartilage to wear away more easily. When the cartilage that supports and cushions the joints of the hands, spine, hips and knees wears away, the bones rub against each other causing the painful condition known as osteoarthritis. OA is a leading cause of disability in people older than 65 and can interfere with a person's ability to work and normal perform day-to-day activities such as climbing stairs.

Continue Learning about Osteoarthritis Causes and Risk Factors

What does occupation have to do with osteoarthritis?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
People who type, operate machinery, bend repeatedly or who have to regularly lift and carry heavy ob...
More Answers
Why is hyperparathyroidism often overlooked as a cause of osteoporosis?
Joane GoodroeJoane Goodroe
Hyperparathyroidism may be overlooked as a cause of osteoporosis because of constant changes in a pa...
More Answers
Signs of Osteoarthritis: Stiffness, Pain, Swelling in Joints
Signs of Osteoarthritis: Stiffness, Pain, Swelling in Joints
Can Running Cause Osteoarthritis of the Knee?
Can Running Cause Osteoarthritis of the Knee?

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.