Causes of Joint Pain: Sports Injury - SkyGen

Causes of Joint Pain: Sports Injury

Athletic involvement at any stage of life is essential for maintaining optimal physical and mental function, mood and energy levels, and overall health. Alas, the risk of sport related injury, one of the most common causes of chronic joint pain, is a tragic and frequent familiar of sporting fun. The tragedy, however minor and fleeting, is trauma enough on its own, with all variations of injury accompanied by the potential hazard of chronicity’s slow march to debilitating pain.

Compromised hip joints, knees, and ankles (the so-called ‘weight bearers’) can create some of the biggest barriers to performing the basic activities of daily life comfortably. Simultaneously, the long term consequence of chronic shoulder, elbow, and even wrist pain can be every bit as severe. The association between sports injury that develops chronicity and the occurrence of osteoarthritis in the affected joint adds a dash of anguish to the pain-rich pot inspiring investigation into the most common causes and effective preventative measures, as well as any means of management and treatment, established, experimental, and anywhere in-between.

The causes of sports-related injuries can be broken broadly into two categories – wear and/or trauma. Prevention of either of these factors is a product of both specialised knowledge and common sense. Most of us likely acquired the bulk of this critical knowledge in gym class as active youths, but as our fitness fades as too can our memory. The most basic preventative measures we can take in delaying undue joint pain are warming up and cooling down properly about periods of exercise. These should include periods of reduced activity before and after vigorous exercise and plenty of thorough and appropriate stretching. Getting plenty of rest and knowing your limits help to prevent traumatic injuries caused by overexertion or improper weight-bearing.

Established methods for managing and treating sports-related joint pain are planned in stages, ultimately depending on the severity of the condition. These range from rest and abstaining from certain kinds of activity for a prescribed time, rehabilitative exercises, NSAIDs and opiates, corticosteroid injections all the way through to total joint replacement in advanced instances. Due to generations of limited results with this regimen, and inherent drawbacks of invasive procedures like joint replacement and the long term use of medication, alternative means of treatment like acupuncture, dietary changes, and now to a growing clinical focus on stem cell therapies with consistently exciting reports of success.

Sport-related joint pain usually results from some damage to or deterioration of the cartilage between the bones of the joint, or from damage to the tendons and muscles surrounding a joint. Of these causes, damage to the cartilage is the most deleterious and apt to result in the development of a chronic condition that will do its best to defy treatment.

This is because cartilage is not particularly good at healing itself or regenerating. Unlike muscle, skin, and nearly every other part of your body, cartilage does not have its own direct and dedicated blood supply. Without the oxygen and nutrients that blood cells would ordinarily carry to the aid of an injured tissue, cartilage is left to its own devices to try and self-regenerate. It doesn’t do a very good job of it and surfaces typically worsen rather than improve.

Stem cell therapy with adipose derived stem cells is fast approaching the “mainstream” end of the aforementioned spectrum, for the treatment of several degenerative joint conditions. When dealing with sports-related injuries, management in the early stages is essential in order to prevent the condition’s progressing with wild and unchecked abandon. Stem cell therapies have now shown to assist the cartilage in restoring and reverting the balance of de- and regeneration and slowing or even reversing the development of sport related joint pain and arthritis, in some cases more effectively than even the most broadly accepted traditional interventions.


*Please read: Although the information provided on this page may describe a particular patient experience and/or outcome, readers must understand that each patient presents with a unique medical history and may be recommended a different treatment/surgery by their surgeon to that described above. Individual results may vary between surgery centre/hospital, surgeon, surgery type and patient. Although SkyGen agrees to share all updates from patients at their request, SkyGen does not endorse any physical activities attempted by patients following surgery which do not follow the explicit instructions provided by their surgeon. SkyGen encourages all patients to discuss the risks of such activities with medical professionals before attempting these themselves.

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Written by William Harrison

William Harrison is a professional medical writer and investigatory health journalist. Left partially paralysed in a fall that broke his back, he received two serious spinal operations and learned to walk again in Thailand, the land he now calls home. A food loving, tea guzzling, experience junkie, he has written extensively on health, medicine, fitness and Thai tourism. The partial product of his experiences and passions, he now avidly follows the development of stem cell therapies internationally as SkyGen's resident health journalist.