There are many risk factors for osteoarthritis—age, gender, body weight, and certain jobs—as we already know!
Now the British Journal of Sports Medicine has identified another factor—one that you probably never thought about.
This risk factor occurs at a young age.
According to the most recent research, injuries in early adulthood can also cause osteoarthritis later in life.
Healthcare information from 149,288 subjects between 25 and 35 years old was collected. The group was split into two. One group had had knee injuries at some point in their lives, and the other group was injury free.
The research revealed that those with knee injuries were 5.7 times more likely to develop arthritis in the knee in the 11 years after the initial injury. After 19 years, the risk was 3.4 times higher.
In the following years, 11.3% of the injury group was diagnosed with knee arthritis compared to 4% in the non-injury group.
The location of the injury in the knee was also found to affect the chance of developing arthritis. For example, injuries to the knee exterior, such as cuts and abrasions, were unlikely to cause knee arthritis in early adulthood.
The risk of knee arthritis was found to be higher in those that had suffered tears to cartilage and other inner tissues. Cruciate ligament injuries increased the risk by 19.6%, meniscal tears increased the risk by 10.5%, and kneecap fractures increased the risk by 6.6%.
Researchers attributed the increased risk of arthritis after a knee injury to changes in biomechanical loading patterns in the knee joint—in other words, a weight imbalance as one side of the knee is forced to carry the weight of both sides.
The scientists recommended proper rehabilitation and a slow return to fitness after any injury.