Knee osteoathritis and football: If you are a soccer player, will you get KOA?

We often hear that there is a price to pay for being physically active, and in particular, debate has raged for years about the effect of distance running on knee OA.

Previously, the longitudinal studies simply were not there, because distance running for the masses was a reasonably modern phenomenon. Now, we do have those longitudinal studies, tracking over 40 years of investigation of the likely effect of distance and ultra distance on the runner.

And, the consensus is that distance running is not proven to cause or contribute toward knee osteoarthritis (KOA).

But, what happens when we factor in injury, PLUS long term high load in sport, such as say…  soccer?

Well, that is an entirely different can of worms, as a new study ably demonstrates.

Prevalence of knee pain, radiographic osteoarthritis and arthroplasty in retired professional footballers compared with men in the general population: a cross-sectional study, Fernandes et al, 2018, BJSM, Volume 52, Issue 10

Football is the world’s most popular team sport. Worldwide over 265 million people are estimated to play football and of these 110,000 are professional male footballers.

The average career of a professional footballer lasts 13.5 years and, despite typically being extremely fit, engaging in high-intensity match-play and training can result in sport-related health risks.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical