Objective: To evaluate the findings in MRI-studies of the knee in recreational long-distance runners after competition and to assess the reversibility of the findings.
Design and patients: Eight recreational long-distance runners underwent MRI studies of the knee before, immediately after and 6-8 weeks after taking part in the Vienna City Marathon. The studies were evaluated regarding alterations of pre-existing lesions and new pathological findings.
Results: In six runners without major pre-existing alterations no negative effects were experienced. In one runner with pre-existing grade III alterations of the menisci, signs of progressive osteoarthritis were experienced 2 months after the competition. In all other cases increased meniscal signal alterations and minor signal changes in the bone marrow after the race were transitory.
Conclusion: In healthy individuals no negative long-term-effects were experienced. Pre-existing high-grade lesions of the menisci might be a predisposing risk for osteoarthritis, triggered by the stress of long-distance running.