How Joint Injury Can Cause Arthritis
You may have heard that injuries can cause arthritis, but how true is that and should you be worried if you’ve experienced an injury in the past? A study from 2012 found that post traumatic arthritis (a type of osteoarthritis which follows injury to a joint) is a leading cause of joint disability and affects around 23% of adults around the world. Post-traumatic arthritis is caused by the wearing down of a joint which has experienced injury - which could have occurred during sports, a fall, or any kind of physical trauma.
FlexiSEQ ambassador Alex Scott developed arthritis in both ankles after experiencing a crunching tackle during her footballing career. But the 36-year-old is refusing to let her condition define her or stop her leading the life she wants. Be sure to watch her story in this video.
Symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis include joint pain, swelling around the joint, a buildup of fluid around the joint, and a decrease in mobility around the affected area. We spoke to David Vaux, Therapies Manager and Exercise Lead at Arthritis Action, to find out more.
How and why can certain injuries cause arthritis later down the line?
“Arthritis can be more likely in later life if you are injured in early life. The probable cause for this is a change in what’s called the ‘articular cartilage’ at the time of injury, or the structures of a joint, such as ligaments. These may affect the stability of the joint over the long term, eventually resulting in arthritis in that part of the body,” he says.
Sometimes, an injury will heal but the affected joint(s) may still be more prone to arthritis later in life. If arthritis only occurs in one joint, or if arthritis occurs earlier in life, it may be post-traumatic arthritis.
How can you manage injured joints that could be susceptible to arthritis?
“While it’s important to listen to your body and rest any hurt areas, it’s also important to keep the muscles strong around an affected area. Exercising the muscles around an affected area has even been shown to help reduce the pain of arthritis and improve function,” says David.
Keeping a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help reduce pain, because it means less weight on the joint and stronger muscles around the area. Developing your muscle strength, resting the joint after exercise, and using a pain-relief gel like drug-free FlexiSEQ can help.
“It’s very important to properly rehabilitate not only your injured joint, but also any change that may be caused by your injury, such as an alteration in your posture or the way you walk and move. This is important to avoid other joints taking on more load and increasing the force or weight in another area,” David continues.
How can you avoid injuries which can lead to arthritis?
“It is never possible to prevent all injuries, as accidents happen to all of us. However, if you take the time to strengthen and exercise the muscles around your joints, then you are much less likely to become injured in the future. The more you exercise your muscles and keep them fit, the more they’re able to help protect and support your joints. Perhaps consider looking into forms of resistance exercise twice a week to strengthen all major muscle groups. If you look around, you’ll find exercises for people of all fitness levels, such as Arthritis Action’s chair-based exercises for people who struggle to stand for long periods,” David says.
Will joint/sports injuries definitely lead to arthritis?
“Not all injuries will necessarily lead to arthritis. Even after a bad injury, many can avoid further issues down the line by seeking advice from a health or exercise specialist and take care to rehabilitate the affected area,” says David.
If you think you may have arthritis, speak to a healthcare professional. They will ask you questions about the type of pain you experience, what makes it better or worse, and any injuries you may have had to make an accurate diagnosis. Treatment may start with a weight loss plan and a gentle exercise regime. For some people, this is all they need, whereas others with more severe cases may require cortisone injections or surgery. Another option is drug-free FlexiSEQ which many users have reported has helped them through both injury like Sarah Ginger and indeed even delay or avoid replacement surgery like Irene Goddard.
Did you develop arthritis after an injury? What helps you deal with the pain of arthritis? Let us know on Facebook!