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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1997 Mar;5(2):75-86.

Sport practice and osteoarthritis of the limbs.

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Rheumatology Department, Leopold Bellan Hospital, Paris, France.


Participation in sports has evolved as a cause of osteoarthritis (OA), especially in hip and knee joints. OA often occurs at a relatively early age in adult life, in certain sports (soccer, rugby, racket sports and other track and field sports) and under certain conditions (high level of practice). We review preclinical considerations and published epidemiological studies. Joint overuse even without notable trauma is likely the main mechanism of OA both in these sports and in certain occupational activities (relative risk ranges from 1.5 to more than 5 depending chiefly on the category of sport and on the level and duration of practice). Irregular or sudden impacts, heavy load application on the dominant weight-bearing lower limb and the pre-existing state of the joint including dysplasia, dystrophy or previous trauma are risk factors for OA. However, recreational sport activities at a reasonable level are not likely to be harmful for most individuals, in most sport activities.

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