Bezuglov, E, Khaitin, V, Lazarev, A, Brodskaia, A, Lyubushkina, A, Kubacheva, K, Waśkiewicz, Z, Petrov, A and Maffulli, N (2021) Asymptomatic Foot and Ankle Abnormalities in Elite Professional Soccer Players. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 9 (1). ISSN 2325-9671

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Background: Professional soccer players are often evaluated with asymptomatic lesions of the ankle and foot, and such abnormalities may eventually become clinically relevant. Purpose: To ascertain the prevalence of foot and ankle abnormalities in elite professional adult soccer players. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Professional adult male elite soccer players (n = 37) underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of both their feet and ankles. All competed for their respective national junior or adult soccer teams. MRI scans were performed with 1.5-T scanners and analyzed independently by 2 experienced radiologists. Results: The MRI scans of 86.5% of the players showed degenerative joint disease (DJD) in at least 1 of the joints of the foot and ankle. Articular cartilage lesions in the joints of the foot and ankle were evident in 42% of the scans. Of all lesions, 17% were grade 3 or 4 (Noyes and Stabler classification) cartilage lesions and accompanied by subchondral bone marrow edema. The greater the age, weight, and height of the players, the greater was the odds ratio of DJD of the ankle joint. Synovitis in at least 1 of the joints of the foot was detected in 64% of the MRI scans. Leg dominance significantly correlated with bone marrow edema of the talus. Conclusion: Elite professional soccer players are often evaluated with a high prevalence of asymptomatic osteochondral lesions with subchondral bone marrow edema in the foot and ankle. These osteochondral lesions may remain asymptomatic or, with the continuing high-intensity stresses that modern professional soccer demands of its athletes, may evolve and cause foot and ankle pain. It is unclear whether and which interventions can be implemented to prevent the occurrence of these abnormalities in the first place.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work as published without adaptation or alteration, without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC925 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2021 07:50
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2021 07:50

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