Leon E. Popovitz, MD
Top-Rated Orthopedic Surgeon
Specializing in Arthroscopic Surgery of the Shoulder & Knee.
For appointments 212.759.4553

The New York Bone Blog

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Bone and Joint Preservation

A recent study, using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Commission, revealed a significant increase in teenage sports injuries visiting emergency rooms. So, then what are the long-term effects of all these increasing number of injuries at such a young age? Potentially, it can be very damaging.

Therefore, I’ve chosen the topic of Bone & Joint Preservation for the first installment of 2016. Bone & Joint Preservation is the mainstay of every orthopedic surgeon but the concept has not been fully verbalized. We perform surgeries and give endless recommendations, all for the purpose of preserving the integrity of joints.

The fact of the matter is that we are all born with only a certain amount of bone, cartilage, ligaments and tendons and the key to a long and healthy bone and joint life is preserving what we have. Thus, orthopedic surgeons take damage to these structures very seriously and the younger you are the more serious the potential ramification may be.

The dilemma becomes how people, young or older, can enjoy an active life style without degrading their joints. First, there is no remarkable data that indicates activities, such as running for example, without any pre-existing damage to the knees will lead to deterioration of cartilage and arthritis. However, if there is already damage to the joint, for example a meniscus tear or articular cartilage (lining of the bone) injury, then repetitive impact and high load on the joint may lead to further loss of articular cartilage and development of arthritis. Therefore, for these people, low impact activities (such as the bike, elliptical trainer and swimming) may be a better option to preserve the remaining cartilage in the joint.

Osteoarthritis is, essentially, a diffuse loss of articular cartilage in the joint. The latest studies reveal that the joint losing its ability to withstand the biomechanical load causes osteoarthritis. Therefore, one theory can be that constant repetitive high impact or load can, potentially, lead to osteoarthritis.

Hence, if a sports injury occurs then it is imperative that you seek orthopedic attention as soon as possible. The younger you are the more important this is. Often there may be injuries in an older population that would not require repair but in a younger person a repair may be necessary to preserve the joint for the many years in the future.

I consider this concept of preservation to be of value in all aspects of health and medicine. After all, we are born with certain vital organs and tissues that may be able to handle some level of strain, such as fatty foods or lack of exercise. Eventually, though, the organ’s reserve becomes depleted and valuable healthy tissue degrades or even necrosis. Preservation allows us more time to enjoy our bodies and life.

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