Does Running Cause Knee Osteoarthritis?

“Keep pounding the pavement and you’ll destroy your knees.” Many runners may often hear this warning. But it is true? Contrary to widespread opinion, a study showed that running does not increase the risk of developing hip or knee osteoarthritis no matter how long, how faster, and how frequently people run.


What is osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees. The conditions usually develop slowly and get worse over time.


What are the symptoms of OA?

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Reduced mobility or joint flexibility


So what does increase a runner’s risk for OA

Age. The risk of developing OA increases with age.

Gender. Women are more likely to develop OA than men.

Obesity. Extra weight puts more stress on joints, increasing the risk of OA in joints.

Previous injuries or knee surgery. The trauma to joint tissues at the time of a joint injury or surgery causes inflammation, which was an important factor in an individual’s risk of developing osteoarthritis in the future.

Most causes of lower extremity joint pain in runners are due to overuse – running too many miles, too little rest, and too fast. The pain can be improved with conservative care, such as ice and rest.


How is OA treated?

There’s no known cure for OA. The symptoms can be managed and relieved with a combination of therapies.