Intense Sports & Osteoarthritis: 7 tips to ward off the risk of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage over the bones wears down over time. This condition does not only affect the elderly. It can also affect young individuals and even athletes. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery helps to avoid or at least delay the use of prosthesis. If not treated early, pain from this condition can lead to the consumption of articulation and require joint replacement surgery at a young age.

 7 tips to ward off the risk of osteoarthritis:

  • Perform moderate exercises: if the joints are stressed due to participation in an intense sport, they may undergo wear. This is especially the case in the presence of malformation of the hip.
  • Lose weight: if an individual is overweight, their joints undergo progressive degeneration and therefore osteoarthritis.
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle: inactivity leads to stiffening of the joint, resulting in pain during movement.
  • Eat healthy foods: a healthy diet rich in vitamins, especially A, C, K, B12, omega 3, and low in animal protein is ideal for maintaining healthy joints and reduces the risk of being overweight.
  • Avoid damage to the joints: If participation in intense sports is a frequent occurrence, this can lead to damage of the joints. This is due to the repetitive movements performed over longer periods of time.
  • Reduce intake of alcohol, coffee and salt: this triad reduces the absorption of calcium and promotes bone decalcification along with increased risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and fractures.
  • Choose the right sport: swimming, biking, golf, hiking in the mountains, pilates and yoga are sports that help maintain healthy joints. Even a stationary bike and treadmill can help individuals stay in shape during the winter.

What types of cutting edge interventions can help prevent hip replacement at a young age?

“Hip arthroscopy is an innovative intervention technique that allows us to correct the causes of hip pain and the conflict between the femur and the acetabulum. Such conflict leads to destruction of the cartilage, for which proper treatment must be found. The intervention -explains Dr. Grappiolo who heads the orthopedic and prosthetic hip surgery department– involves making 3 small holes of about 5 mm each and inserting a tiny video-probe to allow global vision of the joint. In this way, the surgeon is able to visually evaluate the cause of pain and can take proper actions to resolve it. Before the operation, it is important to receive a correct and precise arthro-resonance high-definition diagnostic test, which allows us to have a proper correction plan and predict the outcome of the intervention which will take place in Humanitas hospital.”

“The recovery time after arthroscopic surgery is about 2 months and after 3-6 months, you can resume full athletic activity. Minimally invasive surgery results in minimal scarring and reduced recovery time because the muscles and tissues are not cut off during surgery. In addition, you can resolve painful symptoms within arthroscopy and there is no need for further action. Finally, rehabilitation is only required in certain cases, following recommendation from a surgeon.”

Dr. Grappiolo

Why does hip arthritis affect young individuals?

Up until a few years ago, hip arthritis was considered a typical pathology of old age. In fact, according to the RIAP (Italian Register Arthro-prothesis) there are more than 90,000 people with osteoarthritis who resort to surgery for hip replacements. Among these are young males, mostly in their forties. It appears that excessive and prolonged participation in intense sports constitutes a risk factor for premature wear of the cartilage. The bones end up rubbing together and result in typical pain associated with osteoarthritis. “Nowadays, the goal of specialists is to find the most suitable solutions for each individual patient, by taking into consideration their age and the severity of their situation. In general, the best approach to treating degenerative diseases in elderly individuals is implementing prosthesis. In young individuals, alternative treatments of conservative surgery should be considered whenever possible. The latter can be practiced through open or minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques, based on the most appropriate treatment for each individual case” concludes Dr. Grappiolo.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.