By: 7 May 2014

ACL injuries are extremely common, especially in pivoting sports. The injury involves a torn ligament and produces instability in the shorter term. Although skiers and sports enthusiasts are usually aware of the short term issues associated with ACL injury, the risk of debilitating long term consequences are well known in the medical community.

As reported by the Orthopaedic Research Society, osteoarthritis is the deterioration of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones in the joint. It is a painful and debilitating condition that develops over the course of several years, but is not usually diagnosed until after it is well established. For those who suffer from this condition, there are no treatment options other than managing the pain and stiffness associated with the condition.

Researchers have begun to take a closer look at the mechanisms connecting ACL injuries and the development of osteoarthritis. “In order to develop interventions, we need to identify those with osteoarthritis as early as possible,” explains Dr Richard Frobell of Lund University in Sweden. “Our research aims to identify early changes of the shape of the bones in the knee joint.” What the study has shown is that changes to the shape of the bone can occur as early as six months after injury. Their hope is to be able to identify osteoarthritis in patients years before it is detected by standard radiographic methods.

“The next step,” explains Frobell, “ is to use our cohorts on knee injury to identify risk factors of osteoarthritis and to test different methods as proxies for early disease.”

Junior editor at Fintech Intel