Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of chronic knee changes in long-distance runners based on the training status, including distance, running frequency, training pace, and running experience.
Methods: MRI of the knee was performed in 26 non-professional runners 5 days after their last training unit. Lesions of the menisci and cartilage (5-point scale), bone marrow and ligaments (3-point scale), and joint effusion were evaluated. A total score comprising all knee lesions in each runner was evaluated. The incidence of the knee changes was correlated with the training level, gender, and age of the runners.
Results: Grade 1 lesions of the menisci were found in six runners with a high training level, and in only four runners with a low training level. Grade 1 cartilage lesions were found in three high-trained runners and in one low-trained runner, and grade 2 lesions were found in one high-trained runner and in two low-trained runners, respectively. Grade 1 anterior cruciate ligament lesions were seen in three runners with a high- and in two runners with a low-training level. Runners with a higher training level showed a statistically significant higher score for all chronic knee lesions than those with a lower training level (p<0.05).
Conclusions: MRI findings indicate that a higher training level in long-distance runners is a risk factor for chronic knee lesions.