As a physical therapist, I see a lot of patients affected by pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a debilitating disease that can make everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs extremely painful. Many theories exist as to what factors predispose a person to OA. A recent study was published in the the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy looking at several factors and their association to OA of the hip, knee and ankle.
The authors investigated factors including: joint injury, participation in sports, physical activity, body mass index (BMI) and physically demanding jobs. The authors found that patients that have undergone a meniscectomy (surgery to remove a torn meniscus) were more likely to have hip and knee OA. At this time there is not enough evidence to support that participation in sports or physical activity increases one’s risk for OA. Studies have shown that increased BMI is associated with hip and knee OA. A clear relationship was also found between physically demanding jobs and hip and knee OA. For more information regarding the study’s findings please visit: http://www.jospt.org/issues/articleID.2900,type.1/article_detail.asp
The bottom line is that there are factors both controllable and uncontrollable that can increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis. Being overweight is one controllable factor that has been proven to be associated with osteoarthritis. At this time, no definitive association has been made between physical activity or participation in sports and osteoarthritis. So lace up your shoes and stay active to maintain a healthy weight for your joint health.
Richmond SR, Fukuchi RK, Ezzat A, Schneider K, Schneider G, Emery CE. Are Joint Injury, Sport Activity, Physical Activity, Obesity, or Occupational Activities Predictors for Osteoarthritis? A systematic Review. Journal Of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy . August 2013;43(8):515-524.