Regular exercise is vital for overall health, and key to the maintenance of joint health. However, whilst people are encouraged to participate in sport and exercise, many are unaware that they could be at risk of developing post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) in the years following sport-related injury. Younger adults (< 40 years) with PTOA can experience declining quality of life, comorbid health conditions, and symptoms that place a chronic burden on health services. Conserving knee health through careful self-management in the latency period between injury and the onset of PTOA may help to delay disease progression. In this regard, the development of self-management interventions can be facilitated by understanding the post-injury experiences of young adults and their attitudes towards joint health.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 young adults following a sport-related knee injury to explore their experiences of injury, and their attitudes and perceptions of self-managing knee health. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed systematically using an inductive approach.
Four themes pertaining to participants’ experiences were identified:  perceptions of current care provision;  long-term impact of knee injury;  motivation to conserve knee health; and  opportunities for supplementary support. The expression “Nobody says to you ‘come back in six months and we’ll see how you’re doing’” personifies the long-term impact of knee injury on young adults and a paucity of care provision.
Participants did not perceive that they had adequate care in the aftermath of knee injury, leading to a sense of frustration and uncertainty. This had implications for continued participation in sport and exercise, negatively impacting their athletic identity and sense of wellbeing. Activity tracking, symptom monitoring, advice provision and peer support were identified as tools to enable individuals to self-manage knee health.