If you knew arthritis was coming would you change your lifestyle?

Arthritic Knee

Loss of space between bones in osteoarthritis

The number of people developing disabling knee pain from osteoarthritis is growing at a rapid rate – but if you would know ahead of time, would it change your lifestyle ? Here are 4 ways to know if you might develop knee pain in the future:

Knee swelling with activities

Many people notice that their knees tend to feel full, or larger after a day of activities like walking, playing sports, or skiing. This swelling is often painless, and goes away within a few days. Repeated episodes of seemingly asymptomatic swelling can be suggestive of an underlying process creating inflammation in your knee and causing it to swell.

Prior knee injuries

A history of a knee injury, like an ACL tear, a meniscus tear, or a patellar dislocation can be a precursor to development of arthritis later in life, unfortunately. While these injuries and their treatments do not immediately cause a problem, their effects can be seen many years later with the development of knee pain and swelling.


Carrying around pounds above your ideal body weight is a definite cause of knee trouble. The extra weight causes the surfaces of the knees to breakdown – wearing down the cartilage like tires of a car – and will lead to degeneration of the joints. The first sign may take years to occur – usually with activity-related swelling – but it will happen.

Your family history: Look at your parents

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It is true we usually get both good and bad traits from our parents. A family history of knee arthritis is not a guarantee that we will get it too, but does lend some truth to an increased chance of arthritis.

While you can’t change your parents, you can change the future of your knees and joints with the right lifestyle plan. Stay tuned to the next blog post in which we will explore realistic methods to avoid or delay joint pain.

Dr. Scott Hacker is a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon in San Diego, CA, Team Surgeon to the US Olympic Team. He specializes in sports medicine and sports injuries, knee and shoulder surgery.

If you have questions about knee pain or arthritis, please feel free to contact me at Ask Dr. Hacker or through my office.

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