Most of us have injured a joint during our lifetimes, many of us as children. While it was painful for a time and may have required medical attention, it probably healed up and we assumed that was the end of it.
But for many, it isn’t.
Over time, that same joint may be more prone to wearing out, and this can lead to the development of osteoarthritis (OA) years after the initial injury. In fact, this situation is so common that almost 12 percent of OA sufferers have a specific type of arthritis called post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). This most often occurs in the knee, hip and ankle.
Those at highest risk
The Arthritis Foundation describes the factors which make people most likely to experience PTOA:
- Participating in sports
- Being female
- Being overweight or obese
- Having misaligned joints
- Having served in the military
Female athletes are several times more likely to injure their knees because they tend to rely more on the muscles in the front of their thighs to stabilize themselves, while their male counterparts generally use the stronger muscles in the back of the leg to do so.
Military personnel typically have to carry heavy gear, jump from heights and walk across rough terrain, all of which can injure their leg joints.
Car accidents can also be at the root of PTOA. It is not uncommon for knees, back, hips, ankles and the neck to become injured during a crash, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the bones were broken. Even if only the surrounding structures were damaged, that may also lead to the early onset of osteoarthritis.
Studies have shown that people who experienced a knee injury during adolescence were twice as likely to develop arthritis in their knee as those who didn’t, and those who specifically injured the knee ligaments or meniscus—the soft cartilage between the thigh and shin bones—were ten times more likely to experience PTOA.
What can be done
Research is underway to try and gain a better understanding of the process of PTOA and how to combat it. What we do know at this point is that a joint injury seems to trigger a series of biological events within some people that, over time, leads to the breakdown of cartilage in the joint—the basis of osteoarthritis. While studies have analyzed the chemical process behind PTOA, there is still much work to do in discovering how to interrupt that process and prevent arthritis from developing.
However, what help is there for those who already have PTOA?
First, don’t assume that you’re too young to develop arthritis. While OA typically affects older people, younger people also get it, particularly those who have had injuries to their joints as children or adolescents, as we’ve seen.
Secondly, don’t assume that you must just suffer through. Osteoarthritis doesn’t get better on its own, and will in fact progress over time, causing chronic pain and lack of mobility. If you suspect you have PTOA, you should get it checked out right away.
There are effective treatments for the pain and diminished mobility that come with arthritis. For example, knees—joints that are commonly affected by PTOA—can be greatly helped by a five-step regimen that involves a combination of immediate pain relief, enhancing the natural lubrication in the joint, fully assessing and monitoring the condition of the joint, bracing, and finally, regenerative therapy. This stops further breakdown of the joint and helps the body heal itself.
When dealing with PTOA, time is your ally. The sooner you are diagnosed and begin treatment, the better your outcome is likely to be.
Contact the experts of Flexogenix™ today to discover whether what you’re experiencing is arthritis and take proactive steps to prevent it from affecting your quality of life. Don’t let an old injury stop you from doing the activities you love.