Physical activity not linked to future knee osteoarthritis

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Last Updated: 2001-07-20 9:50:18 EDT (Reuters Health)

LONDON (Reuters Health) – Increased levels of regular physical activity throughout life do not increase the risk of osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a report published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases for August.

However, activities that are associated with knee joint injury should be pursued with caution, as a history of knee injury does predispose to future osteoarthritis, the authors note. In their study population there was an estimated sixfold increase in knee osteoarthritis risk among individuals who had an injury after the age of 14.

Dr. A. J. Sutton, from the University of Leicester, and colleagues assessed the relationship between physical activity and knee osteoarthritis by comparing exercise data from 216 patients with knee osteoarthritis with data from 864 matched control subjects.

With the exception of exposure to regular long walks and being physically active between the ages of 20 and 24, physical activity was not significantly associated with developing knee osteoarthritis later in life, the authors report. A previous knee injury was strongly associated with future knee osteoarthritis (p < 0.01).

"The results support the hypothesis that exercise, at the levels undertaken in the general population, does not markedly increase the risk of knee osteoarthritis later in life," the researchers state. "This finding is in agreement with previous studies on professional athletes, where associations with knee osteoarthritis were observed, because, generally the impact loads sustained…will be much higher than in the general population."

Ann Rheum Dis 2001;60:756-764.

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