November 25, 2019
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NFL athletes had high prevalence of TKA after retirement

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Retired National Football League athletes had a higher prevalence of knee replacement compared with hip replacement, with age and severe joint injury identified as risk factors for both knee and hip replacement, according to published results.

Researchers collected a general health survey examining lifetime playing, medical and concussion history, musculoskeletal injury, health status, nutritional and substance abuse background and demographics for 2,432 retired male NFL players. Researchers assessed the association between self-reported playing or injury history and replacement after retirement with prevalence ratios, and adjusted models for potential confounders of age and weight.

Results showed 11.4% of participants reported undergoing joint replacement after retirement. Researchers found 7.7% and 4.6% of participants reported undergoing knee and hip replacements, respectively. Previous severe knee injury was reported by 53% of participants, with 32.2% of participants reporting a previous meniscal tear, according to results.

Multivariable models showed an association between knee replacement with age, current weight and reporting one, two, or three or more knee injuries. Similarly, researchers found an association between hip replacement and age, position of play as a lineman and reporting one, two or three or more hip injuries. Results showed a cross-sectional association between replacement after retirement with each reported knee injury type.

“While the findings represent an elite retired NFL playing cohort, they also substantially improve our current knowledge of long-term musculoskeletal health in NFL and collision sports more broadly,” the authors wrote. “Further study is recommended to identify and differentiate among the potential onset of joint pain, physician-diagnosed [osteoarthritis] OA and joint replacement surgery and to increase the precision of injury counseling and clinical management, with a view to longer-term player welfare.” – by Casey Tingle

Disclosures: Davies reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.