Objective: To investigate a cohort of professional ballet dancers for evidence of early signs of osteoarthritis (OA).
Design: One radiologist and 1 orthopedic surgeon specialized in musculoskeletal disorders analyzed magnetic resonance imaging scans independently.
Setting: University Teaching Hospital.
Participants: Fifteen professional ballet dancers (4 males and 11 females; age range, 19-36 years) experiencing chronic pain in the hip, knee, spine, ankle, or foot joints.
Main Outcome Measures: Presence of osteophytes, subchondral sclerosis, joint space narrowing, cysts, and bone marrow changes; the Kellgren and Lawrence scale was used to quantify the knee OA.
Results: In the knee, there was thinning and irregularity of the articular cartilage over the medial femoral condyle and bone marrow changes within the lateral femoral condyle. In the hip, there was a loss of joint space and a frayed labrum with deep recess. The first metatarsophalangeal joint showed evidence of osteophytic development.
Conclusions: Early signs of OA, in different joints, were present in a small but highly selected cohort of professional ballet dancers. In future, prospective studies among a number of ballet companies should control for medical and natural history alongside the visual analysis of images and plain radiographs to confirm these preliminary results.
*Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, England, United Kingdom;
†The Physiotherapy department, Royal Ballet Company, London, England, United Kingdom;
‡The Outpatient Department, London Independent Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom; and
§University of Salerno School of Medicine, Salerno, Italy.
Corresponding Author: Nicola Maffulli, MD, PhD, University of Salerno School of Medicine, Salerno, 84081, Italy (email@example.com).
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
Received February 15, 2013
Accepted September 12, 2013