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Premature Osteoarthrosis in Professional Dancers

Teitz Carol C. M.D.; Kilcoyne, Ray F. M.D.
Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: October 1998


The purpose of this study was to determine whether arthrosis begins at an unusually early age in professional dancers; if there is an association between hypermobility and osteoarthrosis in dancers; and if osteoarthrosis is a contributing factor to retirement from a professional career in this population.


Dance and injury history; physical examinations of back, lower extremities, and ligamentous laxity; and radiographs of lower extremity joints were performed in retired dancers. The dancers' radiographs were compared to those of age-matched nondancers. The radiologist was blinded to the origin of the radiographs.


Fourteen retired dancers aged 27 to 46 years who had performed professionally for a minimum of 10 years were included in the study. Thirty-six age-matched nondancers with injuries or pain in various lower extremity joints were used as controls.

Main Outcome Measures

This study measured radio-graphic findings of osteoarthrosis, including sclerosis joint space narrowing, osteophytes, and subchondral cysts; hyper-mobility (after Klemp) as manifested by >3 of 5 tests being positive; and the dancers' reasons for retirement.


Changes of arthrosis were found in 34 of 56 joints in 14 dancers and in 3 of 36 joints in 36 nondancers. Hip calcifications were found in 10 hips in 7 dancers and in 1 nondancer's hip. None of the participants in this study was hypermobile or had retired because of arthrosis.


The prevalence of arthrosis in knees, ankles, and first metatarsophalangeal joints in young dancers was increased when compared to that of nondancers in the same age group. Arthrosis does not necessarily cause retirement from a performance career.

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.