Osteoarthritis: Causes in younger adults?

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Secondary osteoarthritis: What are the causes?

Question

I'm 29 years old. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at age 23. What can you tell me about the cause of osteoarthritis in younger adults? Everything I read is about older adults.

Donna
Indiana

Answer

In most cases, the cause of osteoarthritis isn't known. This is referred to as primary osteoarthritis. Primary osteoarthritis is most prevalent in middle-aged and older adults. When osteoarthritis occurs in younger adults, it may be due to an underlying condition. This is called secondary osteoarthritis. Causes of secondary osteoarthritis include:

  • Metabolic disorders that damage cartilage, such as hemochromatosis and ochronosis
  • Prior joint injury or surgery
  • Prior avascular necrosis, a temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to bone
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders, such as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and congenital hip dislocation
  • Hypermobility disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Chronic joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Prior joint infection (septic arthritis)

Treatment of secondary osteoarthritis is directed at the underlying cause when possible. However, treatment may not repair joint damage from osteoarthritis.

Last Updated: 09/08/2006
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