With financial support from Arthritis Research UK, an alliance of seven UK universities is embarking on a study that aims to help Olympic athletes keep osteoarthritis (OA) at bay later in life. Working together under the umbrella of the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, the scientific team will look at past injuries, joint pain experienced at present and OA, the research charity announced on its website.
The study is planned to incorporate a survey that will examine certain risk factors linked to joint problems and OA in professional athletes. The researchers hope that their work will help develop guidelines for treating and preventing OA in retired high-performance athletes. The study could also provide evidence that will serve as the basis of new advice for sports participation and exercise. More specifically, it will relate to minimising injury risk and reducing the likelihood of OA development.
PhD student Dale Cooper from the University of Nottingham said that the study aimed to improve understanding of the injuries that trigger OA development. The researchers will also seek to determine whether injury mechanisms are similar in former and current athletes. The findings could make it clear what exercise intensity and frequency pose no danger to joints or whether there is any variation depending on sport, physical condition and type of exercise, Cooper added.
People should be encouraged to exercise but it should also be remembered that sport carries the risk of injury, noted Professor Mark Batt of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. This study will seek to determine the effect of injuries on joint pain and OA development, the risk factors and the potential protective power of regular exercise, Batt said.