Elbow osteoarthritis: Risk factors

Elbow: Risk factors

The risk factors presented below are the most frequently observed for osteoarthritis of the elbow. However, they should not be regarded as systematic. Each individual is different, as is their environment (such as occupation, leisure time activities, sports, etc.), hence these risk factors do not exist in all individuals Only your doctor can advise you about your own personal risk factors regarding osteoarthritis.


The most common risk factors are:

  • Metabolic diseases (gout, etc.)
  • Joint trauma,(fractures, etc.)
  • Intense physical exercise
  • Microtrauma (often due to repetitive occupational actions: pneumatic drill and generally any vibrating tool).
  • Architectural abnormalities

Abnormalities of certain metabolisms can lead to a deposit of microscopic crystals in the joints. This is the case in the disease that everyone knows: gout where the crystals are composed of uric acid.


Hence, other crystals may occur such as those of calcium phosphate compounds that are deposited on the surface of joints in chondrocalcinosis, or hydroxyapatite crystals that tend to be deposited in the tendons.


It is in fact the repetition of inflammatory flare-ups triggered by these deposits that promotes the development of osteoarthritis in the joint in question.


For a better understanding of the phenomena that occur in the joint in osteoarthritis take a look at the section: Understanding.


Hence ,these diseases may be responsible for diffuse osteoarthritis involving joints spared by primitive osteoarthritis (wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles). The same is true for other diseases due to excess weight: hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, Paget's disease and chondrodysplasia.


Often a fracture, dislocation or tendon injury can lead to osteoarthritis.


There is a close connection between exercise and osteoarthritis, but not always in the sense one might think.


Keeping moving is essential in osteoarthritis Exercise, provided that it remains appropriate to your condition and ability has a beneficial effect on the joints affected by osteoarthritis:  

  • The joints keep their flexibility;
  • Muscle strength is maintained or even increased;
  • Joint stability is ensured;
  • Endurance in everyday activities is assured.

You must therefore keep up a regular exercise routine while avoiding overworking your joints.
However in case of pain, it is useless to deny it and continue as if nothing were wrong in relation to the activity causing it: it could worsen cartilage damage. You must therefore adapt your attitude to maintaining your activities as much as possible and paying heed to any pain if it occurs.
However, intensive sports may be a cause of developing osteoarthritis. Indeed, the latter often leads to trauma and overexertion of joints. This relates in particular to: football and rugby for the knees, dance for the hips and baseball for the elbows and shoulders.


Microscopic lesions caused by too much stress can traumatize some joints and lead under certain conditions to the onset of osteoarthritis.


This is the case not only in certain occupations in which subjects are subjected to mechanical vibration and repeated shocks (users of pneumatic drills, drivers of construction equipment), but also when it is necessary to make repetitive movements.


Whether congenital or acquired structural abnormalities will alter mechanical stress and promote the development of secondary osteoarthritis.


This may include dysplasia, protrusions, subluxations or acquired anomalies (fractures).


Destructive inflammatory diseases may also alter some joint mechanisms.