Sport injuries: a review of outcomes

Br Med Bull. 2011;97:47-80. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldq026. Epub 2010 Aug 14.


Injuries can counter the beneficial aspects related to sports activities if an athlete is unable to continue to participate because of residual effects of injury. We provide an updated synthesis of existing clinical evidence of long-term follow-up outcome of sports injuries. A systematic computerized literature search was conducted on following databases were accessed: PubMed, Medline, Cochrane, CINAHL and Embase databases. At a young age, injury to the physis can result in limb deformities and leg-length discrepancy. Weight-bearing joints including the hip, knee and ankle are at risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA) in former athletes, after injury or in the presence of malalignment, especially in association with high impact sport. Knee injury is a risk factor for OA. Ankle ligament injuries in athletes result in incomplete recovery (up to 40% at 6 months), and OA in the long term (latency period more than 25 years). Spine pathologies are associated more commonly with certain sports (e.g. wrestling, heavy-weight lifting, gymnastics, tennis, soccer). Evolution in arthroscopy allows more accurate assessment of hip, ankle, shoulder, elbow and wrist intra-articular post-traumatic pathologies, and possibly more successful management. Few well-conducted studies are available to establish the long-term follow-up of former athletes. To assess whether benefits from sports participation outweigh the risks, future research should involve questionnaires regarding the health-related quality of life in former athletes, to be compared with the general population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery
  • Child
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult