Osteoarthritis and the Tactical Athlete

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage in your joints wears away, causing the bones to rub together.

OA is more common in men than women, and it is also more likely to affect the knees and hips.

Tactical athletes, including military personnel, are at high risk of OA due to their frequent exposure to heavy loads during training and performance of their job duties.

Understanding the underlying causes of this increased OA risk is essential to developing and implementing effective OA prevention strategies.


Tactical athletes are often subjected to a higher level of physical stress than the general population, and are at increased risk for developing osteoarthritis due to the demands placed on their body.

These athletes are required to perform high intensity and rigorous exercise in a short amount of time, and are often subjected to repeated stresses that may cause cartilage damage.

As a result, many tactical athletes experience pain in the knees or hips and stiffness when they move their joints.

This is called arthritis and affects about 40 percent of people over the age of 50.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage at the ends of the bones in your joints breaks down and the bone becomes thicker. This can lead to pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility in the affected joints.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis vary for each person. Some people have severe joint pain and stiffness that gets worse over time, while others have pain that is only noticeable during specific activities.

This means it can be hard to tell how bad your condition will be until you get a diagnosis from your doctor.

The pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis can make it hard to carry out everyday activities. It is often felt in the knees and hips but can affect any joint, including the spine.

Your doctor will check for arthritis by doing x-rays of your joints and asking you about any other health conditions that can make you feel pain when you move your joints. If your doctor finds osteoarthritis, he or she will prescribe treatment for you. 

It is important to treat osteoarthritis as soon as it starts to affect you as this can help relieve the symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse.

Medications such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to help ease the pain.

Your physician will advise you on the best treatments to suit you. These might include physical therapy, which helps strengthen muscles and improve general fitness.

They might also recommend medicines to ease pain and reduce inflammation. 


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects millions of people. It occurs in joints throughout the body, including the hips, knees, hands and spine.

It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, a firm, rubbery substance that covers the ends of bones in normal joints and acts as a shock absorber to reduce friction between them.

It may develop gradually over a long period of time or suddenly. It can be very painful. There is no way to prevent osteoarthritis, but you can manage it to improve your symptoms and help protect your joints from further damage.

You should discuss treatment with a health professional, who will create a management plan for you. This should include weight and nutritional management, exercise and education.

Pain medications are available that can ease your pain and discomfort, as well as help reduce the inflammation that causes your pain.

They can be taken as needed or regularly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Some of these medicines can also be bought over the counter.

Topical medications, such as creams or ointments applied directly to the affected areas can provide relief from pain and stiffness. They are also helpful for people with sensitive skin or who have trouble swallowing pills.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is an alternative pain-relieving method that sends mild electric pulses through sticky patches attached to your skin, which are connected to a machine.

This technique can be very effective for reducing the pain of osteoarthritis in some patients.

You should consult your doctor or physiotherapist before using TENS to ensure you are healthy enough for the treatment.

Your healthcare professional can advise you on the strength of the pulses and how long they should last.

Exercise is a crucial part of osteoarthritis treatment, and it has been shown to improve flexibility, joint stability and strength.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, physical therapists and occupational therapists can design an exercise program that is tailored to you.

Osteoarthritis can be treated by changes in your lifestyle and the use of pain relievers.

These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or stronger medications like narcotics and steroids.

Your doctor may also recommend physiotherapy or other treatments to help ease your pain and improve your movement.

Changing your diet can also help reduce inflammation in your joints. If your OA is not improving with other treatments, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair or replace your damaged joint.

Some doctors will also inject your joint with hyaluronic acid, a substance that naturally occurs in healthy joints and helps to lubricate the surfaces of your bones, which can be helpful for reducing pain and stiffness.

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are another popular treatment that can be administered directly into the affected joint.

In some cases, steroid injections can be given to reduce pain and discomfort. These are often a short-term treatment to help you manage your condition.

Acupuncture is another treatment for osteoarthritis and can be very effective at relieving pain and reducing inflammation.

It is often advised for people who cannot tolerate certain medicines or if other treatments have not been successful.

Despite the increased risk of OA, many tactical athletes are still able to maintain their high level of performance by taking preventative measures.

These can include weight loss, increased rest between training sessions and incorporating low impact exercises into their routine.

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Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and can occur in any joint. It usually develops over time and is most common in the elderly, but can also affect younger people.

It can make movement difficult, which can affect quality of life. It can also cause depression and sleep disturbances.

Treatment aims to relieve pain and stiffness and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, as well as improve function and mood. It includes pain-relieving medicines, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. 

Exercise is important for everyone, but it is especially good for people with osteoarthritis. Regular, effective exercise that builds muscle and strengthens joints can improve your symptoms, as well as boosting your general fitness.

It is important to speak to your doctor about exercise if you have osteoarthritis, so they can help you find an exercise program that works for you and is safe.

You can start with simple exercises that are easy to do and build up to more advanced activities over time.

Getting enough physical exercise, eating healthy food and not smoking can all help to prevent osteoarthritis.

It is also important to get regular medical advice from your doctor about medications and other conditions that can worsen osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is an often-serious condition that affects the joints of the body. There are several ways to prevent it from occurring, and to slow its progression if you already have it.

Here's some useful bullet points:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight puts extra pressure on the joints and is a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis.
  • Exercise: Regular, gentle exercise can help keep your joint muscles strong and reduce the risk of arthritis. Try low-impact aerobics, like walking or swimming, and light weight lifting, if you can.
  • Eat a Well-Rounded Diet: Eating a variety of foods is good for your overall health and helps fight inflammation. The key is to avoid foods that increase inflammation, such as red meat, fried food, and refined sugars.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Getting enough sleep can reduce pain and stiffness, and can help you feel more energetic.
  • Try heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to painful joints can ease the pain and reduce stiffness. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can also be helpful.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, occurring in more than half of adults aged 50 and over. It affects joints that move around a lot, including your hands, spine, hips and knees.

Pain and stiffness in your joints is the main symptom of osteoarthritis. The pain usually gets worse when you use the joint, or after resting for a while. For some people, the pain is more noticeable at night.

Your doctor can diagnose osteoarthritis by looking at your joints and by asking you about how you're feeling. They may also ask you to do certain tests.

The main things that help with osteoarthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - such as ibuprofen and diclofenac gels - or steroid injections.

They won't change the condition itself, but they can ease the symptoms of pain and stiffness and make you feel more comfortable.

You can reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis by taking a healthy balanced diet and keeping to a regular exercise routine.

Try to avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, which can increase your risk of osteoarthritis.

Getting enough sleep can also help you manage your pain. It is important to get at least seven hours of sleep a night to ensure your body is able to repair itself and keep you feeling energetic.

The association between osteoarthritis and participating in some sports is not well understood, but the benefits of participation outweigh the risks.

For instance, exercise can strengthen muscles and bones, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improve energy levels. 

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