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Arthritis Research UK warns of hidden hazards of sports injury

25th October 2010

Leading medical charity Arthritis Research UK is raising concerns about the lack of research into osteoarthritis (OA) and sports injury, claiming 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[1] such as sprained ligaments, fractures and broken bones[2]; 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.[3]

Professor Alan Silman, medical director at Arthritis Research UK explains:

“Despite the overriding benefits of participating in sport and exercise, there are hidden hazards related to sports injury. 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. We hope anyone with an interest in this area will visit our website www.painoutofsport.org  to find out more, and contribute to our research.”

Olympic and Commonwealth games medallist 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’. Sharron Davies MBE says:

“I am backing this campaign because more research into the relationship between sport and osteoarthritis is long overdue. 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.”

Bob Wilson, OBE says:

“Although my playing days are behind me, I still feel the strains of a top-level career which, as a goalkeeper, meant operations on both hips. I wasn’t aware that osteoarthritis could affect me at such a young age when I retired, and this view is shared by many people who aren’t fully informed about the risks of sport on the joints of the body. I am backing this Arthritis Research UK campaign to raise awareness of osteoarthritis as a result of sport, and hope others join me in bring this neglected condition to light.”

Famous faces supporting the campaign include: Bob Wilson, Colin Jackson, Darren Gough, Bill Beaumont, Gary Caldwell and Michael Lynagh, Sir Cliff Richard and Jonathan Dimbleby.

The active public together with sport and health communities are asked to share their views and experiences with Arthritis Research UK at the website http://www.painoutofsport.org

  • Defined as people who exercise/play sports/go to the gym 3 or more times a week currently or normally but may currently be recovering from an injury. A survey by ICM Research (September 2010) indicates that this is 28% of the UK population.
  • Injuries enquired about include sprained ligament, muscle tear, tendonitis, fracture, broken bone, tendonopathy and joint pain
  • Lohmander LS, Englund PM, Dahl LL, Roos EM. The long-term consequence of anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus injuries – Osteoarthritis. Am J Sports Med 2007
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    ryan jack

    Tuesday 26th October 2010 @ 22:35

    Repairing the meniscul tear instead of removing the whole of the meniscus will help to avoid the onset of OA.

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