True or False: Arthritis Mechanically Follows Injury

For years, it has been thought that arthritis followed a joint injury as a result of a series of events. For example, torn ligaments led to instability, which would lead to a torn meniscus, which would then result in arthritis later in life.

Now it has been found that arthritis begins developing right after the injury occurs and measures can be taken to prevent it.

Image via Discover

From the Huffington Post 

Papers presented at the 29th Meniscus Transplant Study Group meeting in Las Vegas recently demonstrated that when a meniscus tissue is torn, pro-arthritis enzymes and factors are released, which stimulate the synovial lining cells of the joint to go into overdrive. The tissues talk to each other. They are biologically, not just mechanically, active. The enzymes and factors released into a joint after injury produce a degradative fluid. Degradative means that the compounds break down tissue, inhibit healing, cause swelling, and eventually arthritis. When people complain of joint swelling, the fluid is degradative and leads to more injury over time. Healing occurs when the swelling resolves and the body lays down new tissues.

Translation: Torn ligaments are bad, but torn ligaments and arthritis later in life is worse. If you encounter injured tissues, it is often necessary to promptly repair them to avoid further cartilage damage and arthritis in the afflicted area later in life.