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Long-term sports injury risk probed

Health professionals are offering their views as part of a new campaign to understand the links between sports injuries and osteoarthritis.

Research reveals that thousands of physically active people in the UK could develop painful damage to their joints in the future.

The campaign, "Taking The Pain Out Of Sport", was launched by charity Arthritis Research UK, which highlights an urgent need to develop a better understanding of how sports injury can affect people in the long term.

Its research claims that more than 50% of active people have suffered injuries - including torn ligaments and bone fractures - as a result of playing sport. It is thought that a decade or two down the line, many of these people are likely to see osteoarthritic changes in their joints.

Sports bodies and members of the public will also be asked to provide evidence on sports injuries, diagnosis and treatment as part of the campaign.

The condition occurs naturally as a result of wear and tear, leading to worn down joints, inflammation, stiffness and pain that can become disabling.

Anecdotal evidence suggests injuries such as torn ligaments and bone fractures can result in osteoarthritis many years later.

Knee injuries, which account for up to half of all sports injuries, are especially associated with the condition. Studies have shown that on average, 50% of two common knee injuries result in osteoarthritis.

However, evidence about the effects of fractures and repetitive loading on joints, for instance from running, is lacking.

With so many people sustaining sports injuries there is a great need for more research both into the causes of osteoarthritis and its prevention and management, it is claimed.

Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK, said: "We need to find effective approaches to prevent injuries and, when they occur, improve management to reduce the risk of long-term consequences. We need to be able to give appropriate advice to keep people active in their choice of activities, for longer.

"We hope anyone with an interest in this area will visit our website,, to find out more and contribute to our research."

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Arthritis Research UK