Does sports participation increase risk of osteoarthritis?

A systematic review and meta-analysis on BJSM last year Dec 2016 on the above topic.

“What are the findings?

  • There is low-quality or very low-quality evidence to support an increased association of sports participation and the occurrence of osteoarthritis (OA) in elite participants.

  • There is very low-quality evidence to suggest that soccer, especially in the elite setting, may increase the risk of OA, whereas running may not.

  • For non-elite participants, the relationship is unclear and further prospective cohort studies need to be undertaken.


Overall, there were conflicting results, based on low-quality evidence, in determining an association between previous sporting injuries and OA, although pooled findings suggest that ACL injuries and meniscectomies may contribute to OA in soccer players.

How might it impact on clinical practice in the future?

  • Improve awareness that there may be an increased risk of OA in elite athletes, particularly soccer players, and those who get injured.

  • This may influence prehabilitation and rehabilitation of these athletes.

  • Be aware that high-intensity sporting activity may potentially be associated with OA, although further research needs to be undertaken to understand this.

  • Understand that this needs to be balanced with the substantial benefits of participating in sports (physical and mental well-being) where >30 min of activity/day is advised.”

This article is open access:



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