Can Running Lead To Osteoarthritis?
Running inadvertently can lead to osteoarthritis: Dr L. Tomar.
Only a person with healthy joints has the capability to run
- Osteoarthritis is an age-related degenerative disease
- Running without proper training can lead to injuries and osteoarthritis
- Osteoarthritis causes pain and inflammation in joints
Running is considered an excellent exercise. It helps in building stamina and improving the overall health of a person. However, we are all aware that injury while running is a common scenario. Many people believe that running can lead to osteoarthritis in joints that bear body weight. Factors like the pace of running or the quality of footwear you're wearing all determine your chances of injuries. Moderate or low-level runners are believed to be at lesser risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Dr L. Tomar, orthopedic surgeon, says that running is one of the many causes of osteoarthritis. "Scientifically if you are not running inadvertently, it improves the strength of cartilage and makes the knees stronger. But if you start running inadvertently without following a proper training programme, it may cause injury and ultimately lead to osteoarthritis," he says while adding that running alone is not the only cause of osteoarthritis.
Dr Tomar mentions that only a person with strong knees can run. "If you start running gradually and increase your speed as your body adapts to it, then it will not cause any injury. But in case there is some kind of sports injury and you continue to run in pain, it may lead to osteoarthritis," he explains.
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Causes of osteoarthritis
Dr Tomar says that deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis. People suffering from osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid may have softer cartilage. If these people try to run inadvertently, it may lead to osteoarthritis.
The main reasons for osteoarthritis are age-related degenerative changes. "Almost 80-85% people between the ages 60-65 suffer from osteoarthritis. It is an age-related degenerative disorder of the joints," says Dr Tomar.
As one ages, the water content in the cartilage increases, resulting in degeneration of protein makeup of cartilage. The cartilage eventually begins to degenerate with continuation of movement. Using these worn of joints repetitively causes inflammation in the joints, pain and swelling.
Spread of osteoarthritis can also be genetic wherein many members of the same family can end up suffering from the condition. Narrowing of cartilage in affected joint causes osteoarthritis. Other causes of osteoarthritis include hormonal disorders, diabetes, obesity, repeated surgeries, trauma and abnormal joints at birth.
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Lifestyle related causes
Bones are weakened because of dietary deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D. Deficiency of Vitamin D leads to osteoporosis and early arthritis. Other lifestyle disorders like lack of exercising can also lead to osteoarthritis.
"Most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and swelling in joints. Painful restriction of movements is also a sign of osteoarthritis," says Dr Tomar.
If painful restriction of movements is not treated and continues for a long period of time, it ultimately leads to deformity of joints. Other symptoms of osteoarthritis include creaking and stiffness in joints and loss of range of motion.
Pain in joints is a common symptom of osteoarthritis
Photo Credit: iStock
Treatment of osteoarthritis
"Running is an effective exercise for people suffering from osteoarthritis. A person who has healthy joints will be able to run," he explains.
A condition like osteoarthritis can be treated effectively by taking sufficient rest, reducing weight, exercising and diet control. These measures are specifically important for large and weight-bearing joints like hips or knees. Even slight weight reduction can help in decreasing symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Besides, oral or injected medications can help in reducing inflammation in joints and pain. Dr Tomar says that if exercise and a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D doesn't work, the ultimate treatment of osteoarthritis is either arthroscopic surgery or joint replacement.
(Dr L. Tomar is Director of Department of Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Max Hospital, New Delhi)
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