Elite climbers may develop cartilage abnormalities, osteophytes in finger joints
Results presented at the Virtual EFORT Congress showed an increase in the occurrence of osteophytes and decrease in cartilage thickness in the distal and proximal interphalangeal joints of elite climbers in a 10-year period.
Torsten Pastor, MD, and colleagues compared the evolution of cartilage abnormalities and osteophytes in distal and proximal interphalangeal joints in 31 elite climbers who participated in a baseline study 10 years prior with an age-matched control group.
“Cartilage and osteophyte thickness were assessed using the same measurement principles as used in the baseline study,” Pastor said in his presentation. “Furthermore, finger pain in the last 6 months was obtained by means of a questionnaire.”
Although results showed a significant reduction in cartilage thickness in all fingers of all climbers during the 10-year period, Pastor noted climbers had significantly greater cartilage thickness in all finger joints vs. the non-climbing control group.
“Results for occurrence of osteophytes showed highest frequencies in the longest and, therefore more loaded, digit III at the baseline investigation 10 years ago,” Pastor said. “At the 10-year follow-up, significant changes in osteophyte occurrence in climbers were primarily related to the second- and third-longest digits, II and IV.”
He added that climbers had a significantly higher relative frequency of osteophyte occurrence both at the baseline investigation and 10-year follow-up compared with age-matched controls.
“Binary logistic regression analysis assessing the association of cumulative osteophytes and cartilage thickness with pain showed no correlation neither for cumulative cartilage thickness or osteophytes, nor with changes of cartilage thickness or osteophytes in the last 10 years,” Pastor said.