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Can Sports Injuries Cause Osteoarthritis?

With about 8.6 million sports injuries occurring every year, it is important to think about these injuries’ long-term consequences. Some will lead to immediately apparent problems, like broken bones or sprains. Others may lead to issues in the future, such as osteoarthritis. But how do these injuries lead to osteoarthritis? 

A Refresher on Osteoarthritis 

About 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis, which can lead to aching and sore joints, pain after inactivity or overuse, stiffness after rest, joint swelling, and bony enlargements in the finger joints. There is a higher risk of osteoarthritis with age and other risk factors. These include heredity, obesity, joint overuse, injuries, and other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

Understanding the Connection Between Sports Injuries and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis begins when your cartilage begins to get damaged. As the cartilage protects your joints when it is damaged, your bones will rub against other bones. There is a sub-type of osteoarthritis called post-traumatic arthritis when the cartilage issues start after an injury. Medical experts believe injuries cause 10 to 15 percent of all cases of osteoarthritis. 

The majority of research into osteoarthritis treatment in Brooklyn and elsewhere has focused on knees, including knee injury from falls. Other joints can also be affected, including the back, hips, ankles, and shoulders. 

What Injuries Cause Osteoarthritis? 

Tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly linked injuries to future osteoarthritis. One study found that athletes who tore their ACL 14 years or earlier had three times the risk of developing arthritis in the injured knee. That applied even in the case of treatment via surgery and a full recovery

While an ACL tear is among the most common sports injuries to entail a Brooklyn injury doctor visit, it is far from the only one. Minor injuries may also cause damage to your cartilage. Unfortunately, cartilage does not contain blood vessels. This makes it impossible for your body to replace dead or damaged cells or deliver nutrients to heal. As a result, the cartilage keeps breaking down over time instead of healing. This means that something like twisting a knee can increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the future. 

Which Sports Have the Highest Risk? 

The most considerable risk of future osteoarthritis comes from sports with quick direction changes, collisions, twisting, or jumping. Examples include football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and cheerleading. To avoid injury, you should always practice proper form and warm up before engaging in your sports. 

Treating Osteoarthritis and Sports Injuries 

There is no single answer to what is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis, as it depends on your body and situation. Physical therapy is a usual treatment and will include exercises to strengthen your muscles as well as medications. You can also apply cold and hot compresses. Your doctor may inject medications into the affected joint or remove the joint fluid. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. A doctor specializing in osteoarthritis and sports injuries can determine the best treatment for your situation. 

If you think you have osteoarthritis, suffered from a sports injury, or have other related issues, schedule an appointment with Metro Healthcare Partners


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