Knee Pain and Arthritis: The Price You Pay for Being a Warrior When you Are Young Athlete
Sports, Knee Pain and Arthritis
When you are a young warrior, the mentality is attack the sport. You don’t think about future knee pain and arthritis, you try to be the best you can be, or even reach the professional or Olympic level.
This all out dedication can be great. It teaches you commitment, hard work, discipline, and goal orientation. These skills can serve you well later in life.
However, many athletes injure their knee during the course of sports participation. The more aggressive the sport, the more likely that knee pain and arthritis occurs. Some even have had their sports career derailed due to severe knee injuries.
A frequently devastating knee injury is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. The ACL tear is so violent often adjacent structures are torn, the most common being the medial meniscus and medial collateral ligament.
This combination is often referred to as the terrible triad. The name implies exactly the potential effect on sports participation. Some athletes never return to their sport, others do, but are not the same caliber athlete. The fortunate athletes return to stellar athletic performance.
Not all three ligament and cartilage structures, need to be involved for it to be a terrible problem for the young warrior athlete. Look at professional football players Cadillac Williams and Adrian Peterson. Same problem, same sport, different outcome.
Even with great surgical techniques, not all athletes respond to successful sports outcome. Shoulder and elbow surgery in professional Baseball pitchers is another highly variable success rate with surgery. Even with huge monetary contracts on the line, their bodies cannot always respond to these injuries.
A reason lies in repetitive micro-trauma that these sports impact on the already damaged area, in this case the knee.
At a cellular level, violent trauma does a lot more than just tear an ACL ligament. Even with the best surgical repair, the knee joint becomes arthritic down the road.
In the animal model, a reproduction of a mechanical force blow to the animals knee can guarantee an ACL tear 100% of the time.
It also was learned that 100% of the time it became a degenerative arthritis knee. This means instant degenerative arthritis was occurring at the cellular level.
There are chemical signal messengers known as cytokines that direct joint repair and joint degenerative changes. The balance is tipped after some injuries towards degenerative knee breakdown. This causes pain, swelling, feelings of not being 100%, all counter productive to be an elite successful athlete.
Knee surgery is often done after trauma, especially in sports participation.
Trauma impacts changes to the knee which invoke the degenerative inflammatory cascade, and surgery is another form of knee trauma.
This lies often counter intuitive to what society has imprinted on our brains. We’re told surgery fixes problems, not may also create problems. Yet it does.
Trauma plus surgery equals more knee arthritis later on. Sometimes it leads to an earlier degenerative of the knee, and the patient never feels the same.
This is why some star athletes who are paid millions of dollars, do not return to their professional sport. They would if they could. Knee surgery today is better than 40 years ago when open knee surgery was the norm, and MRI’s were not available. However arthroscopy is still somewhat primitive.
Perhaps the most prominent Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon of the last 3 decades, Dr. James Andrews looks to Orthobiologics, stem cell science and Tissue Engineering as the next great breakthrough in orthopedics since the development of knee arthroscopic surgery. A very big statement.
Yet, when you understand Dr. Andrews has treated thousands of elite athletes, he has seen success and their failures. Dr. Andrews has discussed with Dr. Lox the future applications of stem cell science towards athletic recovery.
There is an old adage, the youth is wasted on the young. If we knew what we know when we are older we might change things. Most would still want to be warrior athletes, however if 20 to 30 year-old athletes could look into the crystal ball of time and see their knee at 40, at 50, or at 60 would they make preventive and Regenerative Medicine decisions earlier?
Dennis M. Lox M.D. has asked and pondered that question to a lot of athletes.
Dr. Lox even includes this topic in his lectures on the subject both Nationally and internationally to some of the World’s top Specialist in the field of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Science.
It is that important. Unfortunately, many people who are young do not understand they will inevitably get older, and with that their problem Knee.
Knee Replacement Techniques
So can Knee joint replacement be avoided, or the time lime be altered, delayed or prevented?
That is not a question that is as simple as yes for everyone. Nothing in Medicine is. That is synonymous with saying at age 30 to a cardiologist, when you are still young but overweight, will I ever get a heart attack?
The answer lies in analyzing each patient individual paying particular attention to their unique characteristics that are important to direct decision making processes. That is called personalized medicine. By doing so an expert such as Dr. Lox can help direct patients and answer questions honestly to arrive at the greatest chance of achieving success. In this case avoiding knee replacement surgery by answering…..YES.
About Dennis M. Lox, M.D.
Whether you are a professional athlete, weekend warrior, or have arthritis from aging, Dr. Lox can help.
Dennis M. Lox, M.D. is an internationally renown Sports and Regenerative Medicine specialist. Dr. Lox incorporates Regenerative Medicine techniques such as cell science applications, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and Tissue Engineering aspects, to help patients from around the world with a vast array of problems. Dr. Lox is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Lox lectures extensively and has edited two PM&R textbooks, the prestigious A State of the Art Review (Star) on Low Back Pain, and Soft Tissue Injuries: Diagnosis and Treatment.
Dennis M. Lox, M.D. maintains an active practice in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, and in Beverly Hills, California.