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What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?

Many factors can increase your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee. It’s most common if:

  • you’re in your late 40s or older – this might be because your muscles have become weaker, your body is less able to heal itself or your joints have gradually worn out over time
  • you’re a woman – osteoarthritis is more common and more severe in women
  • you’re overweight – this increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis and of it becoming gradually worse
  • your parents or siblings have had osteoarthritis
  • you’ve had a knee injury, for example a torn meniscus
  • you've had an operation on your knee, for example a meniscectomy (to remove damaged cartilage) or repairs to your cruciate ligaments
  • you do a hard, repetitive activity or a physically demanding job, for example farming or mining
  • you have another type of joint disease which has damaged your joints, for example rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Arthritis Research UK has recently awarded a grant to investigating the use of new drugs to treat early-onset osteoarthritis caused by injury.


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