Objective: Information regarding the relative risks of developing knee osteoarthritis (OA) as a result of sport participation is critical for shaping public health messages and for informing knee-OA prevention strategies. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the association between participation in specific sports and knee OA.
Data sources: We completed a systematic literature search in September 2012 using 6 bibliographic databases (PubMed; Ovid MEDLINE; Journals@Ovid; American College of Physicians Journal Club; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects; and Ovid HealthStar), manual searches (4 journals), and reference lists (56 articles).
Study selection: Studies were included if they met the following 4 criteria: (1) an aim was to investigate an association between sport participation and knee OA; (2) the outcome measure was radiographic knee OA, clinical knee OA, total knee replacement, self-reported diagnosis of knee OA, or placement on a waiting list for a total knee replacement; (3) the study design was case control or cohort; and (4) the study was written in English. Articles were excluded if the study population had an underlying condition other than knee OA.
Data extraction: One investigator extracted data (eg, group descriptions, knee OA prevalence, source of nonexposed controls).
Data synthesis: The overall knee-OA prevalence in sport participants (n = 3759) was 7.7%, compared with 7.3% among nonexposed controls (referent group n = 4730, odds ratio [OR] = 1.1). Specific sports with a significantly higher prevalence of knee OA were soccer (OR = 3.5), elite-level long-distance running (OR = 3.3), competitive weight lifting (OR = 6.9), and wrestling (OR = 3.8). Elite-sport (soccer or orienteering) and nonelite-sport (soccer or American football) participants without a history of knee injury had a greater prevalence of knee OA than nonexposed participants.
Conclusions: Participants in soccer (elite and nonelite), elite-level long-distance running, competitive weight lifting, and wrestling had an increased prevalence of knee OA and should be targeted for risk-reduction strategies.
Keywords: athletic injuries; epidemiology; injury; injury prevention.