Osteoarthritis and Diet for NFL Athletes “Dying Young”

by | Feb 3, 2014

This quote is from an orthopedic surgeon whom previously plated in the NFL.  

Though it is focused on NFL athletes – the comments about joints, arthritis and diet are germane for many…

” …Former players older than 50 have twice the rate of arthritis as their non-player peers.Though this is not surprising given the nature of the game, it is nevertheless deeply disturbing, especially since there is so much that former players could do to address their pain if they were alerted to possible treatments.

In recent years, medical understanding of osteoarthritis has undergone a dramatic change. No longer is it viewed simply as mechanical wear and tear of the cartilage but rather as a disease of the entire joint, involving chemical and mechanical processes.

Combating osteoarthritis requires a global approach to treatment, much of it involving lifestyle changes in physical activity and diet.

…former NFL players. …while they certainly know how to be physically active, which is important for those with arthritis, the kind of exercise they performed during their careers — heavy weight training, sprints, squats — is completely inappropriate for those with osteoarthritis.

These guys need to learn to gently move the joints and thereby foster lubrication, to stretch the ligaments and maintain range of motion, and to work muscles to achieve functional strength.  

And then there’s diet. …Not only does added weight exacerbate joint problems, it often comes from eating habits that cause inflammation.

The NFL knows that its supersized players are at high risk of developing arthritis. Now it should make sure they are educated about the types of diet and exercise that could prevent it or make it less severe.

The health problems of all athletes, pro and amateur, should be of national concern. But the evolving treatments for osteoarthritis are encouraging. Moreover, we don’t need to change the rules of the game to have a major effect — just the habits of those who played it so well.

Richard Diana is a board certified orthopedic surgeon in Connecticut and the author of “Healthy Joints for Life.” “

The cited OPED article was in the Super Bowl Sunday edition of the LA Times: 

reference:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-diana-football-arthritis-20140202,0,5641897.story#ixzz2sDaEsvHn


Athletes Dying Young?  Lines from Housman’s classic poem stuck with me after my college career in rowing was over…

I didn’t pass away – yet the passage of my halcyon days of collegiate sport, and those arthritic NFL alumni.  seemed to match these words:

And silence sounds no worse than cheers   
After earth has stopped the ears:   
Now you will not swell the rout  
Of lads that wore their honours out,   
Runners whom renown outran   
And the name died before the man.

Here’s to those NFL names that shouldn’t be forgotten and should be helped after their playing days.


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