Special Issue of Journal of Athletic Training Focuses on Osteoarthritis

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Medical experts unveiled new osteoarthritis (OA) research at a national press event held during the National Athletic Trainers’ Association 68th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Houston today. A special issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, NATA’s scientific publication, was released online this morning. The event, which took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, provided protocols and recommendations to keep individuals safe and reduce risk of OA in work, life and sport.


To review the special issue, please visit: http://natajournals.org/toc/attr/52/6


According to research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, approximately 27 million adults in the United States aged 25 years and older have a clinical diagnosis of OA of any joint1 and directly costs more than $185 billion annually2 making it a substantial public health burden. OA is the most common form of arthritis and is often called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It frequently occurs in the hands, hips and knees and leads to pain, stiffness, swelling and ultimately disability.


“In the past, OA was considered a disease that affects only the elderly. We are seeing increasing evidence that young and middle-aged adults are suffering from OA as well, and it is often attributable to a history of acute traumatic joint injury,” says Journal of Athletic Training Co-Guest Editor Joseph M. Hart, PhD, ATC, FNATA, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Virginia. “Because ACL injuries are most common in young individuals and particularly girls, a 17-year-old athlete who tears her ACL could develop OA before she turns 30 and experience pain or disability for more than half her life.”


The special issue addresses OA prevention and management, including quality of life considerations, sports participation, surgical and non-surgical options and exercise programs.


Additional Statistics:     

  • A 2010 Global Burden of Disease study ranks OA 11th among all forms of disability worldwide with a large portion of the working population affected by this debilitating musculoskeletal condition.3
  • A study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage indicates that an individual with a history of a knee injury is three to six times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than an uninjured peer.4


Highlights from the Special Issue:

The issue includes an editorial: “Athletic Trainers Have an Important Role in Preventing and Treating Osteoarthritis.” Key points from select studies include:


“Is Participation in Certain Sports Associated with Knee Osteoarthritis?”

  • Sports participation may increase the risk of osteoarthritis, but it is unclear whether this is due to the specific sport, a sports-related injury, or some other unknown factor.
  • Participation in certain sports may be associated with knee osteoarthritis later in life.
  • The current literature primarily focuses on elite-level male athletes. Future researchers need to study female athletes and nonelite athletes in high school and recreational settings.
  • Athletes who choose to participate in contact and collision sports at elite levels for many years may have an increased likelihood of developing OA and should reduce risk of other factors, including severe joint injuries associated with the condition.


“Epidemiology of Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis”

  • History of joint injury represents an important risk factor for posttraumatic osteoarthritis and is a significant contributor to the rapidly growing percentage of the population with osteoarthritis.
  • This review presents the epidemiology associated with posttraumatic osteoarthritis, with particular emphasis on the knee and ankle joints.
  • Sufficient resources can be devoted to counter OA and provide long-term health benefits for patients after joint injury.


“This special issue highlights research that demonstrates osteoarthritis-related changes much earlier in life than was once thought possible,” says Hart. “As athletic trainers, we need to embrace the role of helping to prevent OA and preserve a person’s wellness by educating patients through a concerted effort of the sports medicine team. We hope all sports medicine experts will review and share these recommendations forward to reduce the risk of OA and help ensure the short and long-term health and mobility of our patients.”


Other suggested articles in the special issue:

  • “Previous Knee Injury and Health-Related Quality of Life in Collegiate Athletes”
  • “Tibiofemoral Osteoarthritis After Surgical or Nonsurgical Treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture: A Systematic Review”
  • “Acute Ankle Sprain in a Mouse Model: Changes in Knee-Joint Space”
  • “Biochemical Response to a Moderate Running Bout in Participants With or Without a History of Acute Knee Injury”



1. Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States: part II. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;58(1):26–35.



2. Kotlarz H, Gunnarsson CL, Fang H, Rizzo JA. Insurer and out-of-pocket costs of osteoarthritis in the US: evidence from national survey data. Arthritis Rheum. 2009;60(12):3546–3553.


3. Vos T, Flaxman AD, Naghavi M, et al. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012;380(9859):2163–2196


4. Muthuri SG, McWilliams DF, Doherty M, Zhang W. History of knee injuries and knee osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011;19(11):1286–1293.