Older Male Track Athlete Rubbing His Back

When athletes are at the peak of their performance careers, the last things they think about are joint pain and long-term joint damage. It’s a common misconception that arthritis only affects the elderly, but athletes can be at a higher risk of developing arthritis conditions than the general population.

Although arthritis is most common in joints that have suffered one or more injuries, it can also occur in joints that have never experienced any damage at all. This is because regular and consistent wear and tear take its toll on certain joints more than others. This article will discuss whether ex-athletes are at a higher risk of developing joint pain and arthritis later in life, as well as how they can find relief from their pain.

The Connection Between Sports and Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation in a joint,1 and osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint pain among ex-athletes because of continuous wear and tear.2 Compared to the general population, athletes put additional strain on certain joints, depending on the sports they play. Certain sports, such as football, soccer, and gymnastics, are statistically more likely to result in arthritis later in life.3 However, other sports, like running, cycling, and swimming, are less likely to cause future joint pain because they are non-contact sports that often have a lesser risk of injury.

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Long-Term Damage from Injuries

Athletes who are more prone to injuries in the sports they play may also be more susceptible to joint pain and arthritis later in life. This can be true for both professional athletes and casual amateurs who suffer a serious injury with a lengthy rehabilitation process. To learn more about the risks for injury-prone athletes, read the article, “Why Athletes Are More Susceptible to Arthritis in Injury Zones.”

The Prevalence of Hip Arthritis Among Ex-Athletes

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that the test subjects, who were professional soccer players, were 10 times more prone to hip arthritis later in life than the average person even if they never suffered a hip injury.4 Not only are the hip joints prone to this type of long-term damage, but also other weight-bearing joints like the knees. This pain typically settles in several years after retiring from the sport, with a few of the ex-players needing hip replacement surgery in their 40s.

Pain Relief for Ex-Athletes

JointFlex is a powerful pain relieving cream that is designed for athletes in all stages of their careers and athletic retirement. It contains the active ingredient camphor, plus glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for skin conditioning. Research has proven that this is an effective combination because glucosamine is a component of joint cartilage, and chondroitin sulfate provides compression resistance for the cartilage.5 With continued use, studies have shown that a majority of people found long-term pain relief that continued to improve.

For other ex-athletes, physicians may recommend analgesics, opioids, acupuncture, braces, injections, or surgery. It is important to assess the level of pain and mobility in an ex-athletes affected joint and monitor it over time to adjust the treatment strategy accordingly.

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1. Arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/arthritis.html.
2. Pujalte, G. G. A. & Amoako, A. O. (2014 May 22). Osteoarthritis in young, active, and athletic individuals. Clinical Medicine Insights Arthritis Musculoskeletal Disorders, 7, 27-32. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039183/.
3. Molloy, C. B. & Molloy, M. G. (2011). Contact sport and osteoarthritis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45, 275-277. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/45/4/275.
4. Drawer, S. & Fuller, C. W. (2001). Propensity for osteoarthritis and lower limb joint pain in retired professional soccer players. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 35, 402-408. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/35/6/402.citation-tools.
5. Hess, A. Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine supplements in osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/glucosamine-chondroitin-osteoarthritis.php.