Study: Running does not cause OA
RUNNING DOES NOT CAUSE OA (Orthopedics This Week)
Is osteoarthritis (OA), the most common joint ailment afflicting middle-age and older adults, caused by running? According to Rebekah Marcarelli, writing for Headlines and Global News, past studies on elite male runners have suggested that such a link could exist.
Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, M.D., M.S. of Baylor College of Medicine, decided to find out. She noted that, “Since running is a common leisure physical activity that involves repetitive loading, which could be harmful to the joint, I was particularly interested in studying how habitual running relates to the development of knee OA.”
Lo and her fellow researchers looked at the records of 2,683 study participants with a mean age of 64.5 years and a BMI (body mass index) of 28.6. Twenty-nine percent of the participants said they had run regularly at some point in their lives. Just under 6% of the study participants were female.
Researchers gave all of the participants an X-ray, a symptom assessment measurement and asked each of them to complete the Lifetime Physical Activity Questionnaire. That questionnaire identified the top physical activities they had participated in during their lives.
According to Marcarelli, after 48 months the researchers scored the knee X-rays for evidence of radiographic OA using the Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade scale. They considered those with a grade of two or higher to have radiographic OA. They also monitored the patients for frequent knee pain. They considered them to have symptomatic OA (if they experienced pain in one or both knees or had had a total knee replacement.)
The result? Lo and her team found that runners had lower instances of knee pain than did those individuals who had never run. This was true regardless of the age of the participants when they had been runners. This was despite the age they were when they participated in their running activity.
Ever the cautious scientist, Lo said, “This does not address the question of whether or not running is harmful to people who have pre-existing knee OA. “However,” she told Marcarelli, “in people who do not have knee OA, there is no reason to restrict participation in habitual running at any time in life from the perspective that it does not appear to be harmful to the knee joint.”