Distance running did not increase risk for arthritis in marathon runners

November 18, 2016

MEETING NEWS (American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting)


DALLAS — Female gender, family history, surgical history, age and BMI were risk factors associated with arthritis in marathon runners, according to study results presented here.

“[About 23%] of adults in the United States report doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and existing evidence on whether distance running contributes to hip and knee arthritis is inconclusive,” Danielle Y. Ponzio, MD, said at the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting. “However, it is a popular topic in the media and this, in part, motivated this study.”



A total of 953 marathon runners (52.8% were male) from 37 countries completed a hip and knee joint health survey. The survey included questions that assessed pain, diagnosis of arthritis, family history, history of hip or knee surgery, personal record time and current running status. During a 16-year period, patients ran about 36 miles per week and completed a median of 57 marathons. Ponzio and her colleagues compared the prevalence of arthritis among patients in the study to the prevalence of arthritis in the U.S. adult population from the 2010 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey data.


Results showed 53% of patients reported hip or knee pain. Multivariate analysis showed an increasing number of marathons were associated with decreased rates of joint pain. In addition, female gender, family history, surgical history, age and BMI were independent risk factors for arthritis in marathon runners, while there was no significant impact from running volume or intensity, Ponzio noted.


“Marathoning did not appear to elevate the arthritis risk above that of the U.S. population. Risk factors demonstrated an inverse relationship between physical activity level and arthritis,” Ponzio said. “We did not find any significant correlation between running parameters, running history and arthritis.” – by Nhu Te



Ponzio D, et al. Paper #45. Presented at: American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons Annual Meeting; Nov. 10-13, 2016; Dallas.

Disclosure: Ponzio reports no relevant financial disclosures.


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