Repetitive joint use is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, which is a leading cause of disability. Sports requiring a bat or racket to perform repetitive high-velocity impacts may increase the risk of thumb-base osteoarthritis. However, this hypothesis remains untested.
To determine if a history of participation in racket or bat sports is associated with the prevalence of thumb-base osteoarthritis.
Descriptive epidemiology study.
Osteoarthritis Initiative. Four clinical sites in the United States.
We included men and women from the recruited from the community. Eligible participants had dominant hand radiographic readings, hand symptom assessments, and historical physical activity survey data.
A history of exposure to racket or bat sports (baseball/softball, racquetball/squash, badminton, table tennis, tennis [doubles/singles]) was based on self-reported recall data covering 3 age ranges (12-18 years, 19-34 years, 35-49 years). Prevalent radiographic thumb-base osteoarthritis was defined as someone with Kellgren-Lawrence grade≥2 in the first carpometacarpal joint or scaphotrapezoidal joint at the OAI baseline visit. Symptomatic thumb-base osteoarthritis was defined as the presence of radiographic osteoarthritis and hand/finger symptoms.
In total, we included 2309 participants. Among 1049 men, 355 (34%) and 56 (5%) had radiographic or symptomatic thumb-base osteoarthritis, respectively; and among 1260 women, 535 (42%) and 170 (13%), respectively. After adjusting for age, race, and education level, we found no statistically significant associations between a history of any racket or bat sport participation and thumb-base osteoarthritis (radiographic or symptomatic; odds ratios range from 0.82 to 1.34).
Within a community-based cohort, a self-reported history of participation in racket or bat sports was not associated with an increased odds of having radiographic or symptomatic thumb-base osteoarthritis in the dominant hand.