Cricketers caught out by hand OA

Cricketers who sustain hand injuries have up to three times higher risk of hand pain and osteoarthritis in later life, a UK study has found.

While associations between knee injury and OA have been well established in many studies, Oxford University researchers said the relationship between hand injury and subsequent risk of  OA was poorly understood.

They therefore conducted a survey of more than 2071 cricketers registered on a national UK database managed by the England and Wales Cricket Board, of whom about half (971) were former players.

Presenting their findings at the OA Research Society International (OARSI) meeting in Toronto on May 5, they said the former players had a mean age of 61 and had played an average of 31 seasons of cricket. In this group around 20% (187) reported that they had sustained a hand injury that reduced or prevented participation in sport for four weeks or more. Half the injuries were in the dominant hand (11% overall) and half were in the non-dominant hand (10%).

After adjusting for factors such as age, number of seasons played and standard of play, the study showed a significant relationship between history of hand injury and current ipsilateral hand pain (defined as occurring on most days in the previous month).

Previous injury in either dominant and non-dominant hands was associated with a two-fold increased risk of pain compared to non-injury.

Similarly ipsilateral hand injury was associated with a 2.5 times higher risk of dominant hand OA and a three-fold higher risk of non-dominant hand OA, after adjusting for other factors.

“This study suggests that injury may be a risk factor for hand pain and OA. However prospective studies are required to better understand this relationship,” the study investigators commented.

“This also highlights the potential need for strategies to prevent hand injuries within sport,” they added.

A second recently published study by the same Oxford group found that hand pain was more prevalent amongst former elite cricketers (19.7%) than rugby players (10.0%), but the prevalence of hand OA (2.4% and 3.6%) and wrist OA (1.6% and 2.1%) did not differ between former cricket and rugby players.

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