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Risk of Arthritis in Competitive Athletes

Former champion athletes are at higher risk for degenerative arthritis requiring eventual hip and knee replacements, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising. Champion athletes often train through pain and compete when they are injured. You should never do that. Your body talks to you. If your hip or knee hurts when you exercise, stop exercising. If the pain returns every time that you run, stop running and find another sport.

Most former athletes who end up with joint replacement surgery had major injuries that came from training when they should have rested, or from traumatic injury that damaged cartilage. Damaged cartilage never heals. Most people who have damage to the cartilage in their hip or knee joints should stop running and jumping, because the impact when their feet hit the ground is transmitted up to break more cartilage. Relatively safe hip and knee exercises include cycling and swimming; they are done with smooth rotary motions without road shock, or in the water that protects the joints. When the pain in your knee is so bad that it prevents you from sleeping, it may be time to get a knee replacement.

Checked 2/1/11

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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