OSTEOARTHRITIS IN ATHLETES
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Former champion athletes are at high risk for degenerative arthritis requiring eventual hip and knee
replacements (1), 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 exercising when they should have
rested, or traumatic injury that damaged cartilages.
Damaged cartilages never heal, so most people who have proven damage to their cartilage in their joints
should stop running and jumping because high impact when their feet hit the ground is transmitted up to
break more cartilage. Relatively safe hip and knee exercises include cycling and swimming because they
are done in a smooth rotary motion 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 your knee replaced.