Knee Osteoarthritis

By Alan L. Hammond

Last Updated on December 2, 2023 by The SportsMD Editors

 

It’s certainly common sense to surmise that amateur athletes are more susceptible to knee injury than anyone else. Even professional athletes are not immune. NFL quarterback Tom Brady missed nearly an entire season for the same reason, a knee injury.

Although most of these professional athletes come back to full strength, they haven’t seen the last of knee problems. An established fact is that injuries such as these increase the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is caused when the cartilage that protects your bones wears away. This can become extremely painful when it occurs in the knees. You don’t have to be an athlete to develop osteoarthritis, but the injuries suffered in sports have been found to increase the risk of this happening. A study conducted by the Department of Neuroscience and Locomotion in Linkoping, Sweden shows that individuals with previous knee injuries possess a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knees.

For this population-based case-control study, they investigated, with respect to sports activity and previous knee injuries, the risk of knee osteoarthritis. In the study, 825 cases with x-ray verified osteoarthritis, were matched (age, sex, and residential area) with 825 controls from the general population. Mailed questionnaires, asking for sports activity after the age of sixteen, knee injuries, and other variables were collected and analyzed using logistic regression models. It was concluded that knee injuries were the factor for increased risk of osteoarthritis.

 

Osteoarthritis symptoms:

.   Stiffness (especially morning knee stiffness)
.   Knee pain that gets worse when running or climbing stairs
.   Limitations in range-of-motion
.   A “crunching” feeling in the knee when active
.   Inflammation, and fluid build-up, in advanced cases

All of these symptoms will greatly impact athletic performance while playing sports.

Sadly, knee injuries can’t always be prevented. However, certain precautions, if taken, can put the odds back in the athletes’ favor. Performing any or all of the following suggestions will help with this as well as with athletic performance:

  • Get the right equipment. There are lots of shoes designed specifically for the sport, not running shoes, with good cushioning and inner and outer side support.
  • Use good technique while playing to reduce the risk of turning or twisting the wrong way or angle.
  • Stretching is a great way to warm up the muscles and joints. Work some active, or dynamic stretching into your routine like jogging around the court and doing side shuffles. This will help prepare your body for the physical strain of playing.
  • Reducing inflammation with dietary supplements are popular complementary or alternative treatment options for people with arthritis. Supplements are not intended to treat disease but they may have certain benefits of reducing inflammation. Turmeric Curcumin also appears to be very beneficial for reducing inflammation and improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (1).

No one can control everything that happens during competition. Armed with this information though, players can take steps to reduce the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis of the knee, thus making it possible to remain competitive well into the later years.

 

Can Telemedicine Help?

Telemedicine is gaining popularity because it can help bring you and the doctor together quicker and more efficiently. It is particularly well suited for sports injuries and facilitating the diagnoses and treatment of those injuries.  Learn more about  speaking with a sports specialized provider via SportsMD’s 24/7 Telemedicine Service.

 

Sources:

Knee Injuries account for the Sports-related Increased Risk of Knee Osteoarthritis, Thelin, N., Holmberg, S., Thelin, A., Scandanavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Volume: 16(5), October 2006, 329-33.

The Association Between Sports Activity and Knee Osteoarthritis, Zeller, L., Sukenik, S., Harefua, Volume: 147(4), April 2008, 315-9, 374