Researchers suspect that genetics plays a part in about 1 out of 4 cases of osteoarthritis. Family history can play a role in osteoarthritis, especially osteoarthritis of the hands. In addition, certain genes appear to occur in families that may cause severe arthritis at an early age.

Family history plays another role, too. Secondary osteoarthritis occurs with other conditions. Some of those conditions can be inherited. You may inherit a condition that puts you at increased risk for developing osteoarthritis.