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Readers Respond: Does Athletic Activity Cause Arthritis?

Responses: 15


Updated January 13, 2010

Did sports participation cause your arthritis? Do you avoid certain activities because you are worried about joint problems? There is controversy about the extent to which sports participation may contribute to wear and tear of the joints. What are your thoughts? Did sports participation lead to early joint problems?

Highly Active

I have advanced arthritis in both hips caused by a deformation and am haiving lfull hip, ceramic joint replacement -- so I can walk again -- i was highly active for 30 years rock climbing, mountain biking, paddling, running, practicing yoga, hiking, swimming, sailing and just about everything else self propelled including ultra mountain bike racing, trail racing and adventure racing. I wondered if my high level of activity cause my arthritis. After reviewing the literature and looking at my experience I have concluded that I would have had arthritis in my hips even if I was a couch potatoe! If anything I should have arthtritis in my shoulders after the extreme paddling I have done or knees with all the running. Perhaps more issues will come my way -- I am 45. But I don't believe that individuals who train and practice sports wisely inevitabley leads to arthritis (physical trauma aside), but I do believe that arthritis is a natural part of aging for most people, like getting wrinkles.
—Guest Sun Shine

Yes, I believe so!

When I reached my fifties, I decided to walk, as a little weight was beginning to creep on. During this couple of years of walking I developed a Bakers Cyst behind one knee. That seemed to settle down after about six weeks. Ten years had passed then after going to a ladies gym for only five weeks, six times a week for 1-2 hours doing weights, aerobics, and some Zumba I got the Bakers Cyst back again. I stopped going to the gym after two more weeks of working out much slower. I could hardly walk up or down the stairs. X Ray showed OA. Then to my dismay the other knee began to go the same way. An MRI confirmed torn meniscus in both knees as well as mild osteoarthritis. I am now told I have to have the tears repaired, but I have been taking Glucosamine for the last three weeks and both knees are improving. Now I don’t know what to do. Either wait, it is a very slow recovery, over three months since the injury, or have the operation as the surgeon say it will not heal without it. Any ideas
—Guest Jennifer D.

Arthritis in the collar bone???

I just saw my doctor about a bump on my collar bone and after a quick look said "Yep, it looks like arthritis". I was totally shocked since I always thought thats something you develop at an older age. (I'm 45). I just remember my grandmother with her crooked fingers. My doctor told me its sports related, but I never injured my collar bone. I walk every day, in addition to occasional rock climbing, yoga, running and aerobics.
—Guest Birgit Rulofs

exercise and multiple joint replacements

I had my first sports related knee dislocation at age 13 (1956) and later had seven more (both knees). At age fifty I had constant pain and had formed large bone spurs on both patellas;my right knee was totally replaced 2004 and the left knee two years later. ACLs were totally torn (both knees) and meniscus also damaged severely (both knees). My right hip was replaced 2010 (again severe arthritis). Next week the right shoulder will have a reverse replacement. In my case, the severe osteoarthritis seems to be a combination of genetics, very flexible joints and activity-caused trauma. Am now working with a trainer--should have had appropriate joint and training assessments years ago! Have always been an avid walker and also do yoga. Trauma was related to horse handling and baseball.
—Guest Sisumom

arthritis all my life almost

I was more active in my teens but had arthritis since about 13 and one of the few who never grew out of it. I have always been told to keep moving so the joints don't stiffen and that is what I still try to do but because of arthritis and a car accident the doctor told me it will get much worse and it has. They are trying to put off knee replacement for 4 more years when I'm 50 but I am worried, because I can't be very mobile, about more weight gain. My hands are the worst but there is no replacement for that. The drugs they want me to try have worse side effects than the pain of arthritis so I won't do those, who knows maybe one of these days they will come up with something better that they don't have to list possible death as a side effect. Til then I move as much as possible and type as much as I can stand to keep my fingers going.

Exercise and osteoarthritis

I am a 50+ female who has been working out for 25 years consistently. I have always maintained my weight. My workouts are varied and intense involving aerobics, running,spinning, and weights; 2 hours per workout, 5-6 days a week. I started having right groin and anterior thigh pain 2 years ago and attributed it to overtraining. After one year of anti-inflammatories and working out around it, I had an MRI which revealed "marked osteoarthritis" of my right hip and a labral tear. The orthopedic surgeon infomed me that I had a genetic pre-disposition (no family history that I know of) which was accelerated by many years of wear and tear to the joint. He informed me that I need a total hip replacement. I am still adjusting to the thought of the surgery and have not made any plans to have it as of yet.My pain level continues to increas, as function and mobility decrease. I walk with a pronounced limp and have difficulty climbing stairs. Still working out though!

Does sports participation cause Arthrtis

No. I'm a skier and an avid tennis player. I've had several injuries to my knees from skiing. I think these injuries have caused the arthritis. tennis has not. Others that have done as much as me have not had problems. I've had bi-lateral knee replacements, and am still an avid tennis player and a skier. I exercise daily to keep my knees in shape and stretch to be limber.
—Guest Nancy Walsh


I am a firm believer that exercise does cause OA. I was always active either with step aerobics, skating and dancing as well as tennis. With many falls behind me, I had undiagnosed labral tears in both hips for over 20 years with no doc addressing the issue, ending in bilateral hip replacements. Both knees are following suit. I was in my barely 50 when hip replacement was done.
—Guest beverly


I'd have to say that all of the years I spent long and triple jumping, doing quick direction changes on the tennis court and soccer field and the miles I have run over the years has done in my poor knees. With that being said I also think that some people are just prone to arthritis because of their physical make-up. If someone with a different body structure had done what I have they may be just fine. Of course, it didn't help that I tore my ACL in both of my knees playing sports which damaged my knees further. In summary...I don't know. :-( I do know that I wouldn't change a thing!

Runner with Arthritis

I was a runner and did high pack aerobics for 30 years. I'm now 55. I still walk and stretch. I have four sisters that don't exercise and are a lot heavier than me. I still exercise but I'm in pain unlike them who has done nothing. Seems hardly fair to me.
—Guest sharon wold

volleyball and arthritis

I developed patellar arthritis fairly suddenly when I was about 44. I didn't have any in my left knee 2 years before this as I had had ACL surgery and there was none observed at the time. I had been playing volleyball regularly before the surgery and after. I played after the surgery and didn't have any issues for a year or 2 but then got it over a relative short period of time and got grade 2-3+in both knees. I believe it was related to my age and my activity and not just the activity. I wish I had known this before. I thought I was staving off osteoarthritis but now I can barely walk up hills at all or do any athletic activity.


I think EITHER being overweight or high impact sports causes arthritis (running etc). Every time I see a runner, I think, there goes a hip replacement in 10-20 years.
—Guest Reader

many joint replacements

Throughout my teens, and into middleage, I was very active. I walked 4-5 x /wk. for several years, and then after 1 hip replacement, I did water aerobics 4x/wk for 7 yrs. I do believe that this ( instead of preventing disabilities ) hastened arthritis ( Mom had it) and now I have 6 joint replacements in the past 12 yrs.......hips, knees, and shoulders) And, I was so loyal in trying to avoid these! Now,(at 77yrs) I find myself using a cane ( last hip replacement never really helped me --- balance poor, unable to use right leg to "push up" on stairs, and back pain! I sure do miss my daily walks, and aerobics...


Yes, I was an Ice Skater, figure, doing jumps as well as a balerina and did high impact arobics and a fair amount of running. I am sure, these contributed to my need for knee replacements. I am of average weight, 185 and I am 5-9, a bit overweight but not a lot.
—Guest Terrence Lallak

exercise and hip arthritis

I have no doubts that 30 years of marathon running caused the arthritis in my hip - probably due to a muscular imbalance from carrying a newspaper bag on one shoulder every day during my developmental years. That over emphasized my dominant side, slightly rotated my hip which created a slight leg-length discrepancy which eventually caused multiple hamstring strains and ultimately to an uneven wearing in my hip joint. I now avoid running, but can do most other activities (biking, swimming, rowing, walking the golf course, etc.) but I have gradually deteriorating, near-chronic discomfort and I'm about to investigate my surgical options again (wishing resurfacing procedures were more advanced and certain of long-term positive outcomes....not to mention stem-cell therapy:)
—Guest Jack Fultz

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