Teen Athletes at Greater Risk for Osteoarthritis: Study

Those playing high-intensity sports more than 10 times as likely to have impaired hip function

MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens with abnormal development of the long bone between the pelvis and knee from playing high-intensity sports, such as soccer and basketball, are at greater risk for osteoarthritis of the hip, according to a new study.

Swiss researchers explained that deformities of the top of that bone -- known as the femur -- leads to reduced rotation and pain during movement among young competitive athletes. This may explain why athletes are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than more sedentary individuals, according to Dr. Klaus Siebenrock, from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

The researchers examined the physical condition and range of motion of 72 hips in 37 male professional basketball players and 76 hips in 38 control participants who had not participated in high-level sports.

The study showed that men and teens that had played in an elite basketball club since the age of 8 were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the hip than in those who did not take part in regular sports. The athletes, the researchers found, had femur deformities causing their thighbone to have abnormal contact with their hip socket.

As a result, they had reduced internal hip rotation and painful hip movements. The study's authors noted these differences got worse during late adolescence.

Overall, the researchers found, athletes were 10 times more likely to have impaired hip function than those who did not play high-intensity sports.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides more information on preventing teen sports injuries.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: Springer, news release, July 19, 2011.

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