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Injury not associated with hand pain or osteoarthritis in study of former elite cricket and rugby players

17th May 2019

Reported hand injury is not associated with hand pain or osteoarthritis in former elite cricket or rugby players, finds a study by researchers within the Centre for Sport, Exercise & Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis and published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

The study looked at hand and wrist osteoarthritis, and hand pain, in former Professional Cricket Association players, former Oxford and Cambridge University rugby players, and former English international rugby players. The study found that whilst there was no difference in hand or wrist osteoarthritis between cricket and rugby players, former cricket players had significantly higher hand pain prevalence than rugby players, with almost 1 in 5 former cricketers reporting hand pain on most days of the last month. Surprisingly, injury was not associated with hand pain or osteoarthritis at either the hand or wrist.

The study’s lead author Dr Betsy Jones commented ‘Hand osteoarthritis has had limited attention in former athlete research, so we are really pleased to have been able to undertake this inter-sport comparison, and identify similarities and differences between rugby and cricket players. This study has involved a substantial team and the support of the England Cricket Board and Rugby Football Union, and I am delighted that once again they have worked with us to continue identifying longer term musculoskeletal health benefits and risks in sporting populations.’

The study follows on from work undertaken by Dr Jones and Dr Madi Davies during their DPhil research at the University of Oxford, which was funded by the Centre for Sport, Exercise & Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis. The Centre Director, Professor Mark Batt added: ‘Hand osteoarthritis has been of increasing interest, and to not see the association between injury and osteoarthritis at the hand, that we do see in these populations at the knee and hip is very interesting. I am thrilled to see our former Centre researchers remaining active in this area, and contributing to the Centre’s ongoing aim to better understand the relationship between sport, injury and physical activity in recreational and elite athletes, and everyday exercisers’.

Research from Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis 

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