Experts constantly tell us to get plenty of exercise. However, joint injuries are more likely among those who live active lifestyles. In fact, 77% of all healthcare appointments are scheduled to address some kind of musculoskeletal pain, costing the U.S. more than $176 billion a year and subsequently raising rates on many people’s insurance premiums.

Among the millions of joint injuries reported, knee injuries are among the most common, with nearly 2.5 million Americans visiting the emergency room annually. Joint pain, with or without an accompanying injury, is a prevalent problem in our society. Unfortunately, injuries that are left untreated can lead to much bigger problems down the road.

What Happens When You Sustain a Joint Injury?

There are also several different kinds of joints in the human body, with only some able to be felt from the outside. Sacroiliac joints are positioned deep inside the body, typically shielding them from injury. However, it’s still possible for a sacroiliac joint to become damaged.

Anytime you cause damage or subject a joint in your body to direct trauma, it is considered to be injured. Joint injuries can occur when any of the following become hyperextended, torn, fractured, or broken:

  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Joints
  • Cartilage
  • Muscles

Regardless of the kind of joint or cause of injury, it’s important to be treated by a professional as soon as possible because negligence often makes it worse. There are countless ways to injure your joints, and interestingly enough, some people live with minor joint injuries without even realizing it. Over time, untreated damage can result in long-term health problems, including arthritis or the acceleration thereof.

What Is Arthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, much is still not understood about this joint-wrecking disease. What is known, however, is that arthritis causes the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

The symptoms mentioned are caused by a combination of factors – some environmental and some genetic. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body and can has been diagnosed in people of all ages. In fact, more than 20 million Americans (and 10 million British subjects) suffer from one form of arthritis or another. The percentage of those dealing with injury-related arthritis is substantial.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that about 15% of osteoarthritis patients developed the disease as a result of a joint injury. Moreover, the same study reported that a person’s chances of developing arthritis are increased by seven times after sustaining an injury.

While handling normal wear and tear is built into your musculoskeletal system, a significant enough reduction in cartilage due to a joint injury can lead to some forms of arthritis. To make matters worse, any infection or further injury to the joint can exacerbate pain and speed up the breakdown of your remaining cartilage (the flexible yet durable connective tissue between your joints).  

5 Ways to Keep Your Cartilage Healthy and Prevent Joint Injury

Strong cartilage helps prevent joint injury. Although cartilage volume naturally decreases with age, the following steps can protect your joints and reduce the amount of pain you experience from injury-related arthritis:

1.) Keep your weight in check.

Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center’s orthopedic physician, Dominic King, says that just 10 extra pounds of weight can put between 20-30 pounds of strain on your joints (namely the hips, knees and ankles).

2.) Take a supplement.

Studies show that NEM (Natural Eggshell Membrane), glucosamine and chondroitin are all effective at supporting cartilage health.

3.) Drink plenty of water.

Since 65-80 percent of your cartilage is water, drinking plenty H2O can help keep your connective tissues in top working order.

4.) Have a chiropractor give you regular adjustments.

Focusing on the relationship between structure and purpose, licensed chiropractors use 150+ techniques to manually optimize body function by adjusting joints gently during in-office visits.

5.) Make sure you get enough physical activity.

An inactive person is just as susceptible to injury as an active one. Protect your joints by supporting cartilage with regular full-body workouts.

How Is Injury-Related Arthritis Diagnosed?

Arthritis, albeit a treatable and relatively uncomplicated disease, can still significantly limit the quality of a person’s life. There are a hundred different types of arthritis, with varying causes and treatment techniques for each. The two most common forms, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, are both usually manageable if discovered soon enough.

Fortunately, an arthritis diagnosis is typically quick and painless. Although many chiropractor, like the chiropractors at Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab are willing and able to diagnose patients right in the office, some cases may require the patient to see a primary care physician for imaging or blood tests. Those extra steps are used to determine what kind of arthritis is present.

Diagnosis of joint injury-related arthritis will most likely involve the following procedures:

  • A physical examination
  • An examination of the injured joint
  • Attempted manipulation of the joint (to check range of motion)
  • X-rays or imaging (to determine the extent of the injury)

With a proper and timely diagnosis, patients can treat a joint injury adequately and avoid suffering from arthritis later on in life.

3 Tips for Treating a Joint Injury to Prevent Arthritis

Certain types of arthritis are accompanied by swelling and inflammation, in which case a rheumatologist is sometimes required. Rheumatologists can help patients manage their ongoing arthritis symptoms, while chiropractors can help patients improve their physical condition or slow the progression of arthritis.

In the meantime, use the following tips and tricks to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Know the risk factors.
    • Arthritis is caused by a variety of things, including:
      • Age
      • Gender
      • Ethnicity
      • Injuries
      • Weight
      • Occupation
      • Immune dysfunction
      • Heredity
      • Diet
      • Infections
  • Understand that arthritis cannot be “cured” only treated.
  • Carefully consider your treatment options, which typically include:

Being proactive about your health is an important part of preventing injury-related arthritis. However, even the most diligent and careful person can still experience joint pain. Those noticing stiffness, a decrease in motion, swelling or pain are encouraged to seek help at once to prevent bigger problems.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.