Doctors worry torn knee ligaments lead to arthritis, but could it be the treatment? Almost all such injuries receive surgery

Soccer player Jason Lalli tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at age 26. Four years later, his knee started aching, and the pain became more constant over time, persisting and creeping up on him “like a toothache.” Soon, the news he received boiled down to this: At just 30 years old, he had arthritis.

Orthopedists have claimed for years that torn tendons or ligaments, no matter how young, increase risk for developing arthritis. As Dr. Mininder Kocher, an orthopedics professor at Harvard Medical School and who conducted an analysis of the available data concluded, the chance of getting arthritis within 10 years of acquiring a tendon or ligament tear in the knee is more than 50 percent.

It’s like a dirty little secret. It’s not that anyone is covering up. It’s just that it’s not well known,” said Kocher, who also functions as the associate director of the division of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This is a major issue for me. If a 15-year-old gets arthritis in 10 years, knee replacement is not a great option at age 25,” added Kocher. He performs over 150 ACL reconstructions in a year, mostly on teenagers.

Adding to the various long-term studies on the subject matter was the one done by Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences physical therapy researcher Britt Elin Oiestad, who observed 181 individuals for 10 to 15 years after ACL Surgery. Seventy-four percent of those people developed arthritis that could be detected via X-rays; some of those people had yet to feel any kind of physical pain, while some of them had reported pain indicative of arthritis.

Dr. Brett Owens, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Brown University Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, said that up to 40 percent of people who dislocate a shoulder suffer from arthritis within 15 years.

There may be genetic factors, Owens said, referring to “ACL families,” or families whose members seem to be most susceptible to developing arthritis, noting, “I have operated on multiple siblings in a family.”

Doctors said they tread very carefully when broaching the subject of arthritis to young people who have torn their tensons or ligaments, especially young athletes. “Most young athletes just want to focus on the problem at hand. Yesterday in my office, I saw a 17-year-old soccer player. ‘Yes, you tore your ACL.’ The tears start to come. It is hard to talk to a 17-year-old about what their knee will be like in 20 years.”

Foods that can lessen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Up to now, rheumatoid arthritis has yet to have a cure. However, some researchers claimed that eating certain kinds of food can result in the significant reduction in the symptoms felt by people who have rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Bhawna Gupta, along with Kumar Sagar Jaiswal and Shweta Khanna of the Disease Biology Lab in the School of Biotechnology at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT ) University in Bhubaneswar, India, made a list of possible foods that can do so.

Supporting disease management through food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy,” Dr. Gupta said in a statement.

Among the foods that the team recommended for the alleviation of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include:

  • Spices like ginger and turmeric, along with olive oil, borage seed oil, yogurt, fish oil, basil tea, and green tea;
  • Cereals such as whole oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and whole rice;
  • Fruits such as pomegranate, mango, apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, grapefruits, peaches, and prunes;
  • Whole grains such as corn, sorghum, barley, canary seed, millet, and rye;
  • Herbs like ashwaghandha and sallaki; and
  • Legumes like black soybean and black gram.

The authors were quick to note that the food groups might not be applicable for all rheumatoid arthritis patients, especially those who have allergies to one or two kinds of food in these food groups. For instance, there are those with celiac disease, which is a kind of autoimmune disorder that prevents patients from eating gluten that is contained in wheat and barley and similar crops.

A lot of patients seemed to agree with the list of foods proposed by the researchers.

For me, red meat and dairy severely increased my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Since I went on a plant-based diet (a recommendation from my rheumatologist), I have noticed a decrease in inflammation and swelling in my joints,” said Texas resident Sarah Korucek.

For her part, Alabama-based resident Amy Lynn Millican said: “I stay away from red meats and dairy also. I’ve noticed a difference, although I still have my rainy-day flares.”

Alcohol definitely makes my rheumatoid arthritis flare. I feel better if I eat gluten-free, dairy-free, lots of fiber, low nightshades, no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and organic. As well, I must take my vitamins and, also, if my iron gets low, I take blackstrap molasses. Drink lots of water and take turmeric,” United Kingdom-based Natalie Gerbon said.

Finally, former Minnesota and now Australian resident Ann Marie Kenna, had this to say: “I am gluten-free, which has made an incredible difference to my inflammation.”

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