Prevalence of Knee Osteoarthritis in 100 Athletically Active Veteran Soccer Players Compared With a Matched Group of 100 Military Personnel

Am J Sports Med. 2016 Jun;44(6):1447-54. doi: 10.1177/0363546516629648. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Background: Although knee injuries in professional soccer (football) have been extensively studied, the prevalence of knee osteoarthritis (OA) in veteran players is not well documented.

Purpose: To investigate the prevalence of knee OA in retired professional soccer players in comparison with a group of athletically active military personnel.

Study design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A group of 100 veteran Greek soccer players aged 35 to 55 years (mean [±SD] age, 46.90 ± 5.9 years) were examined for knee OA and were administered the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) questionnaire. A matched group of 100 athletically active military personnel served as a comparison group.

Results: The sonographic prevalence of OA was significantly higher in the veteran soccer group (52%) than in the military group (33%) (n = 200; P = .010). This difference remained significant even after excluding participants with a history of knee surgery (44.1% vs 25.3%, respectively) (n = 151; P = .010). Femoral cartilage thickness was similar between the 2 groups (P = .473), while altered knee alignment had no effect on the prevalence of OA (P = .740). With the exception of perceived pain being more prevalent in the military group, there were no other statistically significant differences between the 2 groups in KOOS values.

Conclusion: Veteran soccer players had a higher sonographic prevalence of knee OA but better pain scores than a matched group of athletically active military personnel.

Keywords: aging athlete; diagnostic ultrasound imaging; football (soccer); knee.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel* / statistics & numerical data
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retirement
  • Soccer / injuries*