A link between osteoarthritis and sports injury is being investigated under a new campaign, which will gather evidence from health professionals.
Taking The Pain Out Of Sport has been rolled-out by Arthritis Research UK after research showed thousands of physically active people in the UK could develop painful damage to their joints.
The campaign will collect evidence from health professionals, sports bodies and members of the public on sports injuries and people’s experiences of diagnosis and treatment.
The charity is highlighting an urgent need to improve our understanding of the risks associated with long-term sports injuries.
Its research showed that more than 50% of active people have suffered injuries - including torn ligaments and bone fractures - as a result of sport.
Many people are likely to develop osteoarthritic changes in their joints 10 or 20 years after their injury.
The condition occurs naturally as a result of wear and tear, leading to worn down joints, inflammation, stiffness and pain that can become disabling.
Anecdotal evidence suggests injuries such as torn ligaments and bone fractures can result in osteoarthritis many years later.
Knee injuries, which account for up to half of all sports injuries, are especially associated with the condition. Studies have shown that on average, 50% of two common knee injuries result in osteoarthritis.
However, evidence about the effects of fractures and repetitive loading on joints, for instance from running, is lacking.
With so many people sustaining sports injuries there is a great need for more research both into the causes of osteoarthritis and its prevention and management, it is claimed.
Medical director of Arthritis Research UK, Professor Alan Silman, said: “We need to find effective approaches to prevent injuries and, when they occur, improve management to reduce the risk of long-term consequences. We need to be able to give appropriate advice to keep people active in their choice of activities, for longer.
“We hope anyone with an interest in this area will visit our website, painoutofsport.org, to find out more and contribute to our research.”