England may be thriving on World Cup pressure, but how are their joints bearing up?

Coinciding with the start of the Rugby World Cup and the England vs. Turkey Euro 2004 qualifier, World Arthritis Day, 12th October 2003, is an opportunity for many ex-sportsmen from around the world to teach aspiring young hopefuls about the importance of looking after themselves now to protect them from a debilitating condition in the future.

Many studies have proven the relationship between certain types of sport and arthritis. Recently, research has revealed that professional footballers are ten times more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the hip in later life than their peers, despite not having sustained notable hip injuries during their professional career.

Previous studies have also shown that professional sportsmen are at risk of developing arthritis at a considerably earlier age than the general public. A study published in 2000 showed the long-term impact of playing professional football, with almost half of the 284 players surveyed being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, on average, by the age of forty. However, there are preventative measures that can be taken but are often ignored.

GP and medical broadcaster Dr Rob Hicks comments: "Measures need to be taken now if the increased risk of osteoarthritis is to be reduced. Everyone involved in physical exercise and sport, whether professionally or as an amateur, must always protect their joints, through appropriate nutrition and responsible training regimes. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, which includes fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and oily fish. Flexibility and strengthening exercises are also essential. Over-exertion of joints can increase the risk of problems later in later life."

There are more than 200 hundred different kinds of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common. It is caused by damage to the cartilage of joints and can cause long-term pain, stiffness and swelling, which can lead to a significant lack of mobility and p

Contact: Arabella Naylor

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