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29% of Football Players, at risk of Developing Knee Osteoarthritis

15 Nov 2011

Elite competition, injuries and joint overuse, among the major risk factors that may end up causing osteoarthritis.Dr. Villalón, head of the Club Atlético de Madrid medical department, points out that the chances of a sportsperson of developing osteoarthritis increase after suffering a knee trauma. “Chondroprotection” would be the array of measures aiming at preventing, delaying, stabilizing, repairing and even completely eliminating the damage caused by osteoarthritis.

Sarria (Lugo) November 14, 2011. The link between sports practice and joint damage is becoming a growing concern among sports medicine specialists. According to the results of a recent medical study appeared in Arthritis and Rheumatism, 29% of football players, 31% of weightlifters and 14% of runners are at risk of developing osteoarthritis because of the injuries and joint overuse suffered during their elite sports careers. This is the reason why the Galician Society for Sports Medicine devoted its 21st annual symposium, held this past weekend at Sarria (Lugo, Spain) to the diseases of the locomotor system; more precisely, to the sportspersons´ risk of suffering osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, inflammatory and chronic disease of the locomotor system caused by the wear and tear of joints. Elite sportsmen suffer mostly hip and knee osteoarthritis which it is caused by  the overuse and by the injuries suffered during their careers. In fact, 29% of professional football players risk suffering knee osteoarthritis (whereas only 3% of non-elite footballers run the same risk).

Dr. José María Villalón, specialist in Physical Education and Sports Medicine and head of the Medical Services of the Club Atlético de Madrid, explained that traumas are the most common cause of osteoarthritis in professional football players. “When the joints suffer repeated, or severe, traumas, there is an important risk of suffering osteoarthritis. Even children who practice competitive sports suffer from cartilage injuries that can develop into osteoarthritis in the future”, emphasized Dr. Villalón.

Because of the growing concern over osteoarthritis, modern sports medicine puts the focus on the prevention of chondral (joint) injuries instead of on its clinical and surgical treatment. Preventive measures and habits against cartilage diseases should be taught to children from an early age.

According to Dr. Josep Vergés, specialist in clinical pharmacology and Medical and Scientific Director of Bioibérica Farma, “The best way to treat a sports injury is to prevent it from happening. This is why chondroprotection is a highly promising concept developed during the first decade of the 21st century, which was declared by the WHO the decade for the study of the prevention and treatment of osteoarticular diseases”.

Dr. Vergés explained that the chondroprotection concept encompasses an array of pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures addressed at preventing, delaying, stabilizing, repairing and even redressing the effects of cartilage and/or subchondral bone caused by osteoarthritis. The Symptomatic Slow Acting Drugs for Osteo Arthritis (SYSADOAs) are those chondroprotector drugs (term which literally means “cartilage protecting drugs”) that act directly on the three joint structures affected by osteoarthritis: joint cartilage, synovial membrane and subchondral bone. SYSADOAs not only alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis: they have been proved to be able to redress the causes of the disease, stopping the degenerative process going on in the joints. 

In fact, during the symposium, Dr. Villalón mentioned the Consensus Paper on Chondroprotection drafted by the most important Sports Medicine scientific societies.

The symposium´ sessions dealt with new osteoarthritis treatment methods such as growth factors, stem cell therapies or professional pilates. Among the lecturers there were physicians, physiotherapists, rehabilitation medicine specialists, as well as university teachers from León, Madrid, Barcelona, Lugo and A Coruña.

For further information, please contact: 

Alba Soler
Bioibérica Farma Communications Manager
682 040 776 or 93 490 49 08

Aina Mauri
93 217 22 17