Can Playing Sports Place You at Risk of Bone Osteoarthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The most common form of the disease is osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million people in the United States. The disease is characterized as the wearing down of protective cartilage within the joint.

When cartilage is worn down, the result is friction-causing pain as bones scrape against one another without that protective cartilage. Additionally, tendons and ligaments are also negatively affected.

Joints become more susceptible to damage as the disease progresses since the shock-absorbing cartilage has been depleted. Developing osteoarthritis is a risk you take when choosing to play a high-impact sport.

Do Injuries Lead to Osteoarthritis?

The exercise you get while playing a sport has definite health benefits, including strength training and weight control, that aid in helping to protect against osteoarthritis. At the same time, certain sports and exercises can contribute to the risk of contracting the disease.

Sports and exercises that require athletes to do lots of twisting and turning (such as basketball) can overwork joints and place them at risk of osteoarthritis. Also, sports that include being struck violently and sustaining trauma (such as boxing) can create an environment within the body for osteoarthritis to develop.

Sports that Can Lead to Osteoarthritis

Contact sports and individual activities are potential risk factors in developing osteoarthritis, such as:

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Track and field
  • Jogging
  • Dance
  • Cheerleading
  • Gymnastics

Sports that Can Help Prevent Osteoarthritis

The potential for injury is lessened with activities that are less stressful and put less impact on the joints. A few examples of non-impact and low-impact sports are:

  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Spinning (stationary bicycle exercise)
  • Low-impact aerobics

Overexerting your body in any exercise or sport, even non-impact, can damage cartilage in the joints and, over time, result in osteoarthritis.

If you begin to feel pain while doing an activity, stop immediately. Pain is usually an indicator by the body that you need to rest.

Who Is at Risk of Osteoarthritis?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), osteoarthritis occurs most often in older people, but it can also develop in younger people who have sustained a significant injury to a joint – either by engaging in sports, engaging in repetitive movements at work, or being involved in an accident.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis refers to the occurrence of the disease following one or several sports-related injuries or after being injured in an accident. One nationwide study found that post-traumatic osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 5.5 million cases in the United States.

Young athletes who sustain joint injury are also at much higher risk for osteoarthritis before they turn 40 years old than their peers who don’t engage in high-impact sports and activities.

Preventing Osteoarthritis

Preventing sports injuries will help to prevent osteoarthritis. Athletes can help prevent or mitigate injury by doing the following:

  • Do warm-up stretches before exercising
  • Do cool-down stretches after working out
  • Wear protective pads on the knees and elbows
  • Wear a helmet

Monitoring joint health, especially in athletes who are at a greater risk, will help. It’s a good idea for every athlete to be connected with an orthopedic doctor who can monitor your health and address any joint issues; that way, you can help prevent an underlying issue from becoming worse – and you can continue doing what you love.

Contact an Orthopedic Doctor Today

Spectrum Orthopaedics offers premier orthopedic care right here in North Canton. If you’re unsure of the extent of joint damage following an injury or an accident, call us today to schedule an appointment. We have state-of-the-art imaging equipment and years of experience helping patients, so we can quickly diagnose your condition so that immediate treatment can begin.

Call our office today at (330) 305-0838 or or fill out our simple, easy-to-use online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you get back to your active lifestyle again.

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