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Factors associated with pain and osteoarthritis at the hip and knee in Great Britain’s Olympians: a cross-sectional study


Background Knowledge of the epidemiology and potentially modifiable factors associated with musculoskeletal disease is an important first step in injury prevention among elite athletes.

Aim This study investigated the prevalence and factors associated with pain and osteoarthritis (OA) at the hip and knee in Great Britain’s (GB) Olympians aged 40 and older.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study. A survey was distributed to 2742 GB Olympians living in 30 countries. Of the 714 (26.0%) who responded, 605 were eligible for analysis (ie, aged 40 and older).

Results The prevalence of hip and knee pain was 22.4% and 26.1%, and of hip and knee OA was 11.1% and 14.2%, respectively. Using a multivariable model, injury was associated with OA at the hip (adjusted OR (aOR) 10.85; 95% CI 3.80 to 30.96) and knee (aOR 4.92; 95% CI 2.58 to 9.38), and pain at the hip (aOR 5.55; 95% CI 1.83 to 16.86) and knee (aOR 2.65; 95% CI 1.57 to 4.46). Widespread pain was associated with pain at the hip (aOR 7.63; 95% CI 1.84 to 31.72) and knee (aOR 4.77; 95% CI 1.58 to 14.41). Older age, obesity, knee malalignment, comorbidities, hypermobility and weight-bearing exercise were associated with hip and knee OA and/or pain.

Conclusions This study detected an association between several factors and hip and knee pain/OA in retired GB Olympic athletes. These associations require further substantiation in retired athletes from other National Olympic Committees, and through comparison with the general population. Longitudinal follow-up is needed to investigate the factors associated with the onset and progression of OA/pain, and to determine if modulation of such factors can reduce the prevalence of pain and OA in this population.

  • hip
  • knee
  • osteoarthritis
  • post olympic
  • health

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