Knee Osteoarthritis is the most commonly diagnosed form of the joint disorder, and because it’s generally considered a “wear and tear” condition, its most often expected to show up in adults over the age of 65. Osteoarthritis in young people is not unheard of though, with at least 14% of American adults aged 26 and older showing radiographic signs of it, according to a study published by the Arthritis and Rheumatism Journal. What is knee osteoarthritis, and what are the causes of osteoarthritis in young people?

Osteoarthritis of the Knees

The Mayo Clinic defines osteoarthritis as the condition that occurs when the cushioning cartilage at the ends of the bones in a joint gradually deteriorates. The role of the cartilage is to provide padding, and a firm, slippery surface for near frictionless joint motion, so when that starts to break down, the rougher surface causes inflammation during movement, which in turn leads to joint pain, stiffness, loss of flexibility, mobility, and even potential disability. What are some causes of osteoarthritis in young people?


1 out of every 5 Americans has received an arthritis diagnosis, but the CDC states that the number jumps to more than 1 in 3 among the overweight and obese. With 2 out of 3 Americans in every age bracket fitting the bill, it’s easy to see how the earlier incidence in osteoarthritis correlates. However, the links are both logical and unexpected. Not only can you expect more and sooner wear and damage in weight-bearing joints like the knees because of excess body weight, but the fat itself is an active tissue that creates and secretes chemicals that are considered to be pro-inflammatory in the body. Developing and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle as early as possible can help delay the onset of knee osteoarthritis, and can be used as a management tool at any stage.

Sports Injuries

While the young seem to have the miraculous ability of quick healing when it comes to injuries, it doesn’t protect them from developing problems in the long run. In a study of ACL injuries in the knee, as many as 80% of patients showed signs of knee osteoarthritis on diagnostic exams like x-rays and MRIs within the next 15 years, and this type of injury is common in sports like football and soccer. Another factor for athletes as a cause of knee osteoarthritis is repetitive injury, and in young athletes, it can be caused by returning to sports before completely healing, or without thorough enough rehabilitation to prevent biomechanical problems that can cause more wear. Varying sports activities can help build stabilizing muscle around joints and can help prevent overuse injuries from repetitive movements.


Some people that experience the early onset of osteoarthritis symptoms have their genes to thank. Genetics can predispose people to the development of arthritis as an inflammatory immune response, like that in the autoimmune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis. In some cases, this can affect individuals earlier than age 16. Working with a physician and team that specializes in the correct diagnosis and treatment of genetically related conditions can keep them manageable and prevent further injury.

Yearning for Younger Knees?

The Health Star Clinic approach to successful pain management and healing revolves around a comprehensive course of treatment involving the expertise of medical doctors, chiropractors, nurses, and physical therapists. This works to avoid surgical options and minimizes the need for prescription medications. Contact us today to find out if this approach is right for you!