Press Release

Former cricketer arthritis study findings published

Former cricketer arthritis study findings published A new study of former elite cricketers conducted by scientists at Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences highlights the benefits and risks of a career in cricket, including lower heart disease and a high quality of life, but an increased prevalence of osteoarthritis, joint replacement, and mental health conditions. The study by Jones et al and published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport has shown that former elite male cricketers are at a greater risk of osteoarthritis, joint replacement, and mental health conditions, but have fewer heart problems than the general population. Former cricketers also reflected very positively on their cricket career, with 97% agreeing that they would do the same again. Researchers at NDORMS, with support from the Professional Cricketers’ Association and England and Wales Cricket Board, recruited 113 former elite cricketers in order to understand more about the long-term impact of a career in cricket on their health. This first publication in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport used a self-report questionnaire to compare the prevalence of long-term health conditions in the former elite cricketers to those of 4,496 participants from the general population from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Researchers found that the former elite cricketers aged 50 and above were more likely to have physician-diagnosed osteoarthritis, joint replacement at the hip or knee, anxiety, and depression. The former cricketers were less likely to have heart problems, and when asked to consider the benefits and risks of their participation in cricket, 97% of former cricketers agreed that they would do the same again and 94% agreed that they would recommend it to a loved one. 98% of the former cricketers also agreed that cricket had enriched their life. Ian Thomas, PCA Director of Development and Welfare, added: ” Studies like this help the PCA confirm and understand the challenges a life in professional cricket can lead to. ” The PCA, ECB and the PCA Professional Cricketers’ Trust work together to develop support and education to better deal with challenges that come after finishing a playing career. ” The PCA and ECB take a proactive approach to support players transitioning into the professional arena and now work equally as hard to help players deal with the transition after playing professionally through a variety of interventions.” Two additional studies of these cricketers have provided further insight into life after retirement from cricket. The first study by Filbay et al. recently published in BMJ Open found that these former cricketers were often very satisfied with their quality of life despite living with joint pain. Possible explanations for this were the high level of resilience and the positive attitudes about pain and physical impairments that were common amongst these former cricketers. Feelings of accomplishment and pride for their past cricket career also appeared to have a positive impact on their quality of life after retirement from cricket. The second study by Filbay et al., soon to be published in BMJ Open, found that living with joint pain did not prevent these retired cricketers from being physically active. The study has been led by the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, which aims to reduce the impact of sports injuries by examining the relationship between a range of sports participation and the subsequent risk of developing osteoarthritis. Lead researcher Betsy Jones, from NDORMS, explained: ” With the importance of physical activity to a healthy lifestyle, it’s important for us to acknowledge the health benefits and understand any negative impacts of sport so that we can inform healthy participation.” Dr Nick Peirce, the ECB’s Chief Medical Officer, said: ” This survey is part of a long-term strategy being jointly pursued by the ECB and PCA to support player welfare and to examine strategies to reduce the burden of osteoarthritis and mental health issues that appear to be associated with professional sport, through supporting research with ARUK. ” The sample size is relatively small, but it confirms that we must continue to think and work proactively on issues affecting the mental and physical health of players after retirement. ” Previous PCA surveys have shown that around 20% of players go through low mood and anxiety during their first two years of retirement, which this study supports. Cricket is striving to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and it remains a key priority, helped by the work of the PCA and its ambassadors. We will also look to share our Duty of Care with other leading professional sports that are starting to tackle this area.”