Arthritis and Joint Problems Sideline NFL Pros and Weekend Warriors Alike

Robert Sterling, MD

Robert Sterling, MD

By Robert D. Sterling, MD
Associate Professor of Orthopaedics

Ouch! As you can imagine when you see a player get sacked, years on the football field can take their toll! A 2008 University of Michigan study of retired NFL players found that, compared to the general public, these former football greats have a very high rate of diagnosed arthritis. Their joints are, plain and simple, just worn out. So of the older retirees in this study, almost 25 percent have had at least one joint replacement. The vast majority have had knees replaced. Hips replacements are less common.

So as some great athletes take to the field this Super Bowl XLVI weekend, some of us former “great” athletes may be wondering if that creaky knee or aching hip needs a possible replacement. When is the right time to see a doctor about it? Listen to your body, and it will tell you: If you are experiencing pain, swelling or stiffness in one of your joints, now is a good time to get checked out.

During your evaluation, we will get a full history of your complaints and examine your joints to figure out why you are having pain. This history and physical exam is often followed by an x-ray to look at your bones. The first steps we try for treatment of arthritis usually involve exercise, weight reduction, knee braces, and medications to help your pain.

Whether you want to get back on a field or just back to playing with grandkids, diagnosis and appropriate treatment of any joint pain should be the next step in your training program.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact the University of Maryland Department of Orthopaedics at 877-771-4567.

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