Can Arthritis Catch Up With Runners?
Timothy McAlindon, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Arthritis
Center at Boston University School of Medicine, tells WebMD, "There have
been case-controlled studies in Europe that -- in contrast to the studies
[cited by Lane et al.] -- do show increased risk [of knee and hip
osteoarthritis] from recreational activities."
The study results cited by Lane and colleagues are "generalizable to
people who are similar to those participating in that [particular] study:
habitual runners who are lean and appear to be in good health," says
McAlindon. "Now, can you generalize that to someone who is over 40,
overweight, and decides to start running? Running could do damage to the knees
of someone who is very obese."
Running is relatively low-impact compared to activities like tennis and
squash, which involve changing direction rapidly -- twisting -- and put more
stress on the knee, says McAlindon. "Soccer and skiing are clearly very bad
for knees," he says. "What you have to do is temper the message.
Running seems to be relatively safe, but other sorts of activities may increase
the risk of osteoarthritis, especially if there's impact involved or there's
the risk of injury to ligaments."
- A high-impact, high-stress running regimen is associated with a greater
risk of joint deterioration, which could lead to osteoarthritis.
- Recreational running, however -- running 2-3 times per week at an 8-minute
mile pace -- does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Scientists do not know exactly how osteoarthritis develops, but damage to
the surface of the bone can start a process that leads to joint