Managing Osteoarthritis Of The Knees In Young Athletes
When most people think of sports injuries with young athletes, they think of acute problems, like a torn ligament or concussion. However, there are also young athletes in their teens who are being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a condition formerly associated with
Osteoarthritis in Young Athletes
It was formerly believed that osteoarthritis
Why are so many young people experiencing these signs and symptoms? Kids are starting sports today at younger and younger ages, because the level of competition can be so tough. By the time they are in their teens, the pressure on elite athletes to perform at higher levels than previous generations can be tremendous. Just look at the degree of difficulty in Olympic sports like gymnastics or figure skating between ten years ago and today.
That high level of competitiveness can also lead to more acute injuries. It is now widely accepted that a history of acute injury puts athletes at risk of developing osteoarthritis. The younger the age at which the injury occurs, the younger arthritis can set in.
Doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers today take a three-pronged approach in treating osteoarthritis in young athletic knees. First, they use palliative measures to reduce or eliminate pain, so athletes can keep participating in the sports they love. This includes:
ice heat elevationafter activitiy kneebraces and/or taping lowdoses of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) massagetherapy acupuncture
Palliative measures may also include complementary activities to relieve joint pressure, such as light swimming, yoga, or Pilates.
In some cases, teens need to modify their athletic technique somewhat to accommodate their arthritic condition. With today's high-tech video capabilities, even with mobile phones and tablets athletes can be filmed competing and working out to identify areas for change to reduce stress on joints or risk of future injury.
Athletes can also change their workouts to protect their knees. Adding appropriate stretching and strengthening the muscles around the knee, particularly the
Sometimes athletes may even work with a sports psychologist to learn mental imagery methods to change habits. They may also keep
The advent of arthroscopic surgery has allowed orthopedists to examine and treat
The clinicians working with these young athletes have two goals in mind: to keep the competitors active in the sports they love and to keep joints healthy for a lifetime of activity. This three-tiered approach is proving to be highly successful and will likely remain the standard of care until a radical new approach to the management of osteoarthritis can be found. To find out more about sports injuries, speak with someone like Adult & Pediatric Orthopedics SC.