Arthritis and athletics

Clin Sports Med. 1991 Apr;10(2):343-57.


The number of people participating in athletics does not equal the number of people with arthritis. There are no data to support the concern that athletic participation will make the onset of arthritic joints more likely. What is clear is that injuries that occur with athletics can increase the incidence of arthritis. If a patient does develop arthritis secondary to athletics, the treatment is not different than that offered for a spontaneously occurring arthritic joint. If an operation is necessary, the best operation depends a good deal on the goals of the patient. Continued athletic participation may be reasonable as long as the athletic activity is not vigorous and does not involve running and jumping or contact. The recommended athletic activities for patients with arthritis and for those having operations for arthritis are swimming, hiking, bicycling, walking, and golfing. The operations recommended for arthritic patients under the age of 30 should be biologic operations such as fusion or osteotomy. In patients aged 30 to 45, the operation should be correlated to lifestyle and desired level of activity. A biologic operation is better for highly active patients. When patients reach the age of 45 or are older, total joint replacement usually is preferable because of the improved clinical functional results and the decreased stress on surrounding joints with arthroplasty. If patients are older than 60 years, total joint replacement is the operation of choice and usually will include a cemented prosthesis. Some surgeons at this time do prefer cementless total-joint replacement for all patients regardless of age. Patients who have arthritis can have a satisfying athletic and exercise routine if they simply apply common sense to the manner in which they conduct their activities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged*
  • Arthritis / etiology*
  • Arthritis / surgery
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Humans
  • Knee Prosthesis
  • Middle Aged