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Sport and cartilage

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Chondral impact sports


The intensive sport promotes osteoarthritis.

The chondral lesions are more common in subjects with sudden changes of direction.

Cartilage degradation is significantly worsened by the joint trauma

Moderate physical activity, varied, can participate in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis.

The maintenance period the mechanical properties of cartilage, muscle strength and joint mobility.

Disciplines like cycling, swimming, water aerobics, stretching and even weight training or walking often prove beneficial.

Intensive physical exercise demonstrated its aggressiveness towards the cartilage tissue

Many studies have found a high rate of knee osteoarthritis among top athletes practicing football, rugby, basketball, wrestling, judo, weightlifting and dance (3). Within a group of footballers aged on average 35 years, 60% shows signs of osteoarthritis ankle against 6% in the general population. The upper limb is not spared. Although the shoulder does not support the weight of the body, it frequently shows osteoarthritis among swimmers and basketball players. More broadly, 50% of former top athletes aged 50 suffer from osteoarthritis against 30 to 40% of sedentary the same age. Finally, the "hip footballer" is a particular entity. The subchondral bone is denser, osteophytes appear, yet cartilage thickness is maintained. For some, these images show a joint coating eroded but swollen with edema!

The chondral lesions are favored by significant mechanical stress.

When monopod support Pauwels showed that the coxofemoral behaves like a balance. The gluteus medius supports the pelvis and chest despite an unfavorable lever arm. This results in a joint pressure equal to 4 times the weight of the body. During sporting activity, the phenomenon is growing because the trunk frequently flop away from the hip joint. In addition, add the pressure resulting from each reception. Trotting at 12 km / h, the impact peak is already equal to 3 times the weight of the body.

The chondral structure intolerant shears and rotations. The stack of chondrocytes is designed to withstand the stresses in pressure. The integral sports sharp turns and twists are particularly harmful.

Trauma inherent in sport are aggravating factors. They promote early osteoarthritis in case of continuation of the activity. The meniscectomy greatly increase the chondral pressures. Direct joint sprains shocks but also cause impaction cartilage responsible for mechanical and inflammatory lesions. Chronic laxity sequelae, even asymptomatic, cause micro-movements that erode cartilage.

Some constitutional abnormalities increase the risk of osteoarthritis in case of intensive sport. This is the case of varus frequently encountered among followers of supported sports. This is the case of hypermobility often found in the dancer or gymnast.

Adequate physical activity can be beneficial to the cartilage.

Strict rest has proven harmful to the cartilage. Chondral the coating thins. Collagen fibers are no longer oriented in the stress axis. The articular surface becomes irregular with concavities and ulceration at points of contact with the bone part opposite one another. Conversely, a well-conducted physical activity has a pump effect on the cartilage tissue avascular. It promotes its nutrition by imbibing. Bearings-slides perform a real bore, called

What sport for cartilage?

To preserve the cartilage, it is customary to provide sports practiced in the axis of the joints. Activities "analytical" type of cardio equipment, weights, maintenance, gym, sweet and even hiking or jogging stretching are possible. They are preferable to more fun disciplines such as snowshoeing or ball sports. For fans of football or tennis, it is essential to encourage a "joint preparation" through more analytical practices. Sports activities should be moderate. Three to four weekly sessions of 30 minutes to 1 hour seem optimum. It is better to diversify disciplines to better distribute the joint stress. Vary activities can divide the risks and increase profits. "

If incipient osteoarthritis (1), joint bore the chondral imbibing, muscle building and maintaining flexibility remains advisable. It is necessary to reduce the pressure and outlaw twists. Disciplines "worn" without direction change can be proposed. Cycling, swimming or water aerobics are found most often beneficial.


1 - BUCKWALTER J et al. Aging, sports and osteoarthritis. Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review 1996; 4: 276-287

2 - ETTINGER H. coll.JAMA and 1997; 277; 25-31

3 - VIGNON E. Osteoarthritis Paris, Ed Pharmascience 1999.

Doctor St├ęphane CASCUA. - 13 f├ęvrier 2012.

Conflicts of interest: the author or authors have no conflicts of interest concerning the data published in this article.


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