Objective: The relationship between musculoskeletal injuries and anabolic-androgenic steroids is not well understood. The purpose of our study was to investigate the association between self-reported anabolic-androgenic steroids use and the prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in a unique group of retired professional football players.
Design: A general health questionnaire was completed by 2552 retired professional football players. Survey data were collected between May 2001 and April 2003. Results of self-reported musculoskeletal injuries were compared with the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids using frequency distributions and chi2 analyses.
Results: Of the retired players, 9.1% reported using anabolic-androgenic steroids during their professional career. A total of 16.3% of all offensive line and 14.8% of all defensive line players reported using anabolic-androgenic steroids. Self-reported anabolic-androgenic steroids use was significantly associated (P < 0.05) with the following self-reported, medically diagnosed, joint and cartilaginous injuries in comparison with the nonanabolic-androgenic steroids users: disc herniations, knee ligamentous/meniscal injury, elbow injuries, neck stinger/burner, spine injury, and foot/toe/ankle injuries. There was no association between anabolic-androgenic steroids use and reported muscle/tendon injuries.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that an association may exist between anabolic-androgenic steroids use and the prevalence of reported musculoskeletal injury sustained during a professional football career, particularly ligamentous/joint-related injuries. There may also be an associated predisposition to selected types of injuries in anabolic-androgenic steroids users.