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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Luke 2010.

Does long-distance running lead to cartilage damage? An MRI study

updated
Tags: etiology, exercise, arthritis, counter-intuitive, running, good news, knee, patellar pain, pro, self-treatment, treatment, aging, pain problems, leg, limbs, overuse injury, injury

PainSci summary of Luke 2010?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Studies (like Williams) have shown that runners probably do not get more knee osteoarthritis than anyone else, which is a bit surprising: surely regular pounding wears out joints? Researchers took a bunch of fancy pictures of the insides of knees before and after a marathon, using a new MRI technique that can detect early cartilage degeneration: “Runners showed elevated T1rho and T2 values after a marathon, suggesting biochemical changes in articular cartilage” and “the patellofemoral joint and medial compartment of the knee show the highest signal changes, suggesting they are at higher risk for degeneration.” Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Also, perhaps some biomarkers of trouble “remain elevated after 3 months of reduced activity” — but it’s arguable that those results were not actually statistically significant.

It’s also an open question whether any of this is clinically significant: it’s not clear that signs of stress actually mean anything in and of themselves. On the contrary, this study seems to support the idea that the risk, while real, is also reassuringly reversible and counter-intuitively minor.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: There is continuing controversy whether long-distance running results in irreversible articular cartilage damage. New quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques used at 3.0 T have been developed including T1rho (T1rho) and T2 relaxation time measurements that detect early cartilage proteoglycan and collagen breakdown.

HYPOTHESIS: Marathon runners will demonstrate T1rho and T2 changes in articular cartilage on MRI after a marathon, which are not seen in nonrunners. These changes are reversible.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2

METHODS: Ten asymptomatic marathon runners had 3-T knee MRI scans 2 weeks before, within 48 hours after, and 10 to 12 weeks after running a marathon. The T1rho and T2 MRI sequences in runners were compared with those of 10 age- and gender-matched controls who had MRI performed at baseline and 10 to 12 weeks.

RESULTS: Runners did not demonstrate any gross morphologic MRI changes after running a marathon. Postmarathon studies, however, revealed significantly higher T2 and T1rho values in all articular cartilage areas of the knee (P < .01) except the lateral compartment. The T2 values recovered to baseline except in the medial femoral condyle after 3 months. Average T1rho values increased after the marathon from 37.0 to 38.9 (P < .001) and remained increased at 3 months.

CONCLUSION: Runners showed elevated T1rho and T2 values after a marathon, suggesting biochemical changes in articular cartilage, T1rho values remain elevated after 3 months of reduced activity. The patellofemoral joint and medial compartment of the knee show the highest signal changes, suggesting they are at higher risk for degeneration.

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: