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OA and traumatic injury

November 27, 2012

Some knee injuries may cause osteoarthritis later in life.

Osteoarthritis is far more common in individuals with a history of traumatic joint injury.  This is why athletes often develop osteoarthritis of the knee later in life.  It is important to distinguish between the normal wear of exercise and the accumulation of small injuries.  Healthy work-outs do not increase the risk of osteoarthritis, but those who push their joints beyond their limits may cause long-term injuries.

Recent work by Dr. Cruz of the University of Guelph examines the progression from a single traumatic event to the development of osteoarthritis.  Dr. Cruz specifically wanted to know if damage to cartilage, bone, or both, led to more severe symptoms after the immediate healing had been completed.  This research showed that even after a therapeutic exercise regimen, damage to cartilage and bone did not heal.  This means that severe, single-event injuries may have long-term effects, even after immediate treatment.

This is important because it means that some knee pain may not heal naturally.  Damage to cartilage and bone may kill the blood supply to an area and eliminate its potential for healing.  If you have a severe knee injury, it may not be enough to wait for the swelling and pain to subside.  Consult your physician and check if more serious treatment may be necessary.

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