WHAT IS IT?
Osteoarthritis is the medical term for the more common "arthritis" and refers to the general deterioration of cartilage that leads to damage on articulating surfaces of joints.
Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, some as small as the bones in the hand/fingers, and as large as the hip and knee joints.
Preventing osteoarthritis in the knee, or delaying onset, is a lifetime practice, as many of the causes that lead to deterioration of bone articulating cartilage are due to overuse during youth, adolescence, and early adulthood. Other increased risks come from lifestyles, and habits that are typically formed at a younger age.
INCREASED LIFESTYLE RISK FACTORS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Extremely active lifestyle, where the joints take a beating
- Participating in physical activity that heavily load the joint, such as running, put large loads onto the body that continuously put stress on the cartilage and articulations of joints, running the articulation cartilage thin.
- Extremely sedentary lifestyle, where the joints receive very little to no load
- Sedentary lifestyles tend to lead to a decrease in bone density, and a decrease in bone density leads to an increase risk of osteoarthritis
- Ligament, tendon, or cartilage tears
- Tearing your ACL, MCL, and PCL all show an increase risk for early onset osteoarthritis, as the joint lacks stability, and therefore overloads cartilage
- Having leg length discrepancies, wearing shoes that lack arch/medial support, etc. lead to increased pressure on one side of the body compared to the contralateral side, and results in deterioration of cartilage
- Musculoskeletal discrepancies
- Having weak muscles on one aspect of the leg compared to the other leads to decreased stabilization in the knee, which leads to increased load on one aspect of the joint.
- This is the highest, non-impact cause that is correlated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in both adults and children
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Prevention is key. Having musculoskeletal evaluations, leg length, joint alignment measured by a physical therapist prior to your child starting physical activity is key to identifying potential problems early. Children are resilient, physically, but those same joints may not be so quick to heal at age 40, and like wearing sunscreen, it's extremely necessary to attempt prevention at a young age.
Preventative physical therapists, including us here at CHAMPION, can take your children, or even you through preventative programs to help decrease risk, delay onset, or even delay surgical repair.