Sports activities and certain work-related physical demands contribute significantly to meniscal damage, a key determinant of knee osteoarthritis.
Soccer, especially, is brutal to the knees. Other sports that entail knee torsion like soccer all carry a high risk of acute meniscal tear for participants. Being overweight, having to kneel or squat repeatedly at work and joint laxity are also key contributors in the pathogenesis of degenerative meniscal lesions.
These are among the findings of an investigation of the risk factors for meniscal damage in 243 men and women aged 20 years to 59 years. For all of them, the diagnosis of a meniscal tear was confirmed for the first time at arthroscopy, over a 25-month period and in two hospitals in England.
Each of the cases was compared with one or two control cases of similar age and sex who were patients of the same family doctor. A physical examination of participants, along with their responses to a structured questionnaire, captured the information on exposure to risk factors.
Meniscal tear was strongly linked with sports activity, particularly soccer, in the 12 months preceding the onset of symptoms. Once the researchers took patients' social class, joint laxity and sports participation into account, higher body mass index and occupational kneeling and squatting carried an increased risk of degenerative meniscal lesions.