When it Comes to Sports Training, Don't Overdo it

Report reveals research is needed on osteoarthritis resulting from sports injuries.

Leading medical charity Arthritis Research UK is raising concerns about the lack of research into osteoarthritis (OA) and sports injury.

The charity claims that active people are at risk of developing a potentially avoidable, disabling condition due to limited knowledge in the prevention and management of sports injury.

A new report published to coincide with the conference, Tackling Osteoarthritis in Sport, hosted by Arthritis Research UK in partnership with The Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine (ISEM) reveals a serious lack of research into the prevention and management of OA as a result of sports injury, whether single episode or ‘wear and tear.’

According to a survey by Arthritis Research UK, more than half (56%) of the active public has sustained a sports injury such as sprained ligaments, fractures, and broken bones; while 78% are concerned about the long term consequences of injuries and 32% have concerns about the limited mobility or joint problems later in life, such as OA. Studies show that, on average 50% of those diagnosed with common sports injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament or meniscus tear will develop OA.

“Despite the overriding benefits of participating in sport and exercise, there are hidden hazards related to sports injury,” according to Professor Alan Silman, medical director at Arthritis Research UK, in a press release. “From the limited research carried out, we know some sport-related injuries will cause osteoarthritis, which is a painful and debilitating condition. While there is reasonable guidance on how to manage injuries in the short-term, there is no research into the long term implications of sports injuries and osteoarthritis, and what we can do to better prevent and manage OA.”

“We need to find effective approaches to prevent injuries and, when they occur, improve management to reduce the risk of long term consequences. We need to be able to give appropriate advice to keep people active in their choice of activities, for longer.

“An increasing number of people are taking up sport and exercise at the Government’s encouragement. With a little investment we can enable them to maintain this throughout their lives.

“We are launching a new campaign, ‘Taking the pain out of sport’ which will seek input from the active public, sport and health communities in order to gather evidence of the occurrence of sports injury and people’s experience of diagnosis and treatment.”

Olympic and Commonwealth games medalist Sharron Davies and former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson are just two of the sports personalities supporting Arthritis Research UK’s new campaign ‘Taking the pain out of sport.’

“More and more sports people retire facing a life of debilitating joint pain and understanding the effects of sport on the body is definitely a priority for elite athletes and the active public alike,” Sharron Davies, she said.

The active public together with sport and health communities are asked to share their views and experiences with Arthritis Research UK at the website.

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What do you recommend for your sport-training patients? Do you believe a link between sports injury and osteoarthritis may exist?