Osteoarthritis: Causes in younger adults?

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Secondary osteoarthritis: What are the causes?


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.



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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