Cartilage damage in a young man

College Football player came in last week with chief complaint of weakness in the left knee. Patient had an injury during a game about 2 years ago which was followed by arthroscopy, in which part of his cartilage was removed. He has no pain unless he plays hard in his football matches. His past medical history is unremarkable and he is very healthy. He is concerned since he is a good candidate to be signed up next year in NFL (National Football League).

Discussion: Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis vary between individuals. Major associated symptoms are stiffness (worse in mornings for 15 to 30 minutes before subsiding) and specific joint pain (severe after exercise and occurring toward end of day). Moving the joint for a few minutes may help reduce stiffness often associated with osteoarthritis. A second sign of osteoarthritis is a grinding sound and/or sensation that can be heard or felt when bending the knee with hand placed on the joint. Attempting to move the knee joint through the full range of normal motion is difficult. Muscles will weaken and atrophy in advanced cases. Knee joints can also appear larger than normal, caused by new bony growths, medically-termed "osteophytes" or more simply, "spurs." Swelling may occur with no apparent reason, in part due lack of treatment to retard osteophyte growth.

Case Study Date: 10/18/2007