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Dr. Darrell Menard, answers the question: Can Osteoarthritis run in the family? Plus sports scoreboard

Can Osteoarthritis run in the family?

Q:  My mother was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both her knees when she was 48 and had both her knees replaced before she was 60.  My older brother was just told he has osteoarthritis in his right knee.  I have been very active throughout my life and while my knees currently are pain free I am worried that I am doomed by my genetics to have osteoarthritis of the knees in the future.  Can osteoarthritis be hereditary?   Worried

Dr. Darrell Menard

A: Dear Worried – there are many types of arthritis and osteoarthritis happens to be the most common.  Osteoarthritis can affect almost any joint in the body where it causes a progressive breakdown of the cartilage found in these joints.  It is very commonly seen in weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips and spine.

Cartilage consists mainly of water and proteins and in joints it functions to reduce friction and shock absorb.  Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to gradually lose its elasticity and become stiffer.  These changes leave cartilage more vulnerable to tearing and wearing down.  Unfortunately the body is unable to replace damaged cartilage and over time some people reach the point where some of their joints literally have no cartilage.

There are a number of risk factors for osteoarthritis and they include things such as: increasing age, a previous history of joint injury, increased body weight and heredity.  Heredity plays a role in several ways.  Some people inherit defects in one or more of the genes responsible for making cartilage and this leads to the production of lower quality cartilage that will break down faster than normal.  You can also inherit conditions that give you loose joints and this laxity will promote early joint wear.  Heredity plays a role in obesity and excessive body weight places a great deal of stress on weight bearing joints.  Even the structure of your knee joints affects how fast they wear out.  For example people with bowed legs are at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.  Your gender can even be an issue as women are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip than men.

The bottom line is that heredity does play a role in the development of osteoarthritis but you can reduce this risk by staying sensibly active, maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding injury.  It also helps if you pick your parents very carefully.   Exercise is medicine!

Dr. Darrell Menard OMM, CD, MD (former Physical Education Officer at RMC) now a Sport Medicine Physician

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SPORTS SCOREBOARD

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(M) Volleyball

Recent results

Fri 16 Feb Ryerson 3 @ RMC 0

Sat 17 Feb Toronto 3 @ RMC 0

Upcoming

Fri 23 Feb RMC @ Ryerson 8:00 PM

(W) Volleyball

Recent results

Fri 16 Feb Ryerson 3 @ RMC 0

Sat 17 Feb Toronto 3 @ RMC 0

Upcoming

Fri 23 Feb RMC @ Ryerson 6:00 PM

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