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Study Examines Risk Of Arthritis Among Rugby Players

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New research in the UK aims to find out more about the long-term health consequences of playing rugby, including the relationship between the sport and the subsequent risk of developing osteoarthritis.

In a study led by the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, experts will work with the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Players´ Association to assess how playing and training as a rugby player might impact on a player´s health in the longer term.

This builds on a pilot study in 2014 that involved Oxford and Cambridge Rugby Blues.

The new research will be the first to take an extensive look at the consequences of playing rugby at both amateur and professional levels in England. This has been identified as a priority research area by both the Rugby Football Union and World Rugby, according to the University of Oxford´s Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), which will work on the study.

Lead researcher Madi Davies, from NDORMS, commented: “There are an increasing number of studies looking at match and training injuries across all levels of the game, but there is little research exploring the long-term positive and negative effects of playing the sport. As part of the wider aims of the centre, this study is designed to help us understand which injuries lead to long-term pain and disability, including osteoarthritis.”

Up to 500 England international rugby players will complete a questionnaire designed to assess their background, playing history, medical history, previous injury history, current general and musculoskeletal health and current level of activity. From this, the research team will produce a general health and injury and pain profile for retired players throughout their career and into their retirement, showing how common osteoarthritis is within this group and pointing to risk factors for the disease.