Can Sports Injuries Cause Arthritis?

A twisted ankle or injured shoulder can mean more than just a few weeks off the field and in rehab. It can be a trigger that causes arthritis later in life. Sports injuries cause arthritis in up to 23 percent of adults, according to a study in History of the Human Sciences.

Arthritis Caused by Injuries

Arthritis caused by injuries is known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis and can be triggered by sports injuries or everyday falls. Sometimes when a joint suffers an injury, it doesn’t heal properly, and over time the cartilage in the joint deteriorates. This process may lead to pain or stiffness, and in extreme cases, cause advanced deterioration to the point where bones scrape against each other.

There’s no sure way to prevent post-traumatic arthritis following an injury, and about 40 percent of severe injuries lead to osteoarthritis. This arthritis can often appear about 10 years after the initial injury.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

Most post-traumatic osteoarthritis patients report pain or stiffness in the affected joint. Typically, if arthritis pain occurs in a single joint – as in one knee rather than both knees – it’s likely a post-traumatic injury. In many cases, pain can be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or aspirin and with hot and cold compresses. Physical therapy treatment can help patients strengthen the muscles around the injured joint, helping to stabilize and reduce the strain on the joint. Losing weight to decrease the amount of pressure on the affected joint can also reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.

Other Treatment Methods

While minimally invasive treatments can be successful in managing pain, they may not always be fully effective. Surgery, including joint reconstruction, replacement and debriding is often effective in the long-term treatment of arthritis.

Sports injuries cause arthritis in some cases, but Front Range Orthopedics & Spine’s staff of 10 board-certified orthopedic surgeons offer the specialties needed to get back in the game. Call us at 303.772.1600 or use our new patient request form to get started.

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