Not All Osteoarthritis Patients Reported Pain

1 in 5 older urban residents had arthritis of the hip in recent US study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The most common form of arthritis can cause major disability in patients who are 50 or older in the United States. A new study showed just how common it was among those living in urban areas.

While as many as 1 in 5 urban residents 50 and older had arthritis of the hip visible in an X-ray, far fewer felt pain from their arthritis, the study found.

"Ask your rheumatologist about your treatment options for arthritis pain."

The study was conducted by Chan Kim, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues.

The researchers enrolled people in the study from the Framingham, MA, community cohort from 2002 through 2005. The study authors took X-rays of the lower limbs and pelvis (hip) of 978 participants. The average age of those who took part was 63.5, and 56 percent of the sample was female.

Patients were diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hip if their Kellgren-Lawrence scale (used to assess the severity of arthritis) score was 2 or higher. A score of 2 indicates a narrowing of joint spaces and bony projections around the joint.

The researchers also asked the patients whether they had hip pain most days.

While 19.6 percent of the patients had osteoarthritis (inflammation and damage to the cartilage and bone) of at least one hip, only 4 percent reported pain.

Men had more osteoarthritis, but women reported more pain — 24.7 percent of women reported pain, while only 14.7 percent of men did.

The authors noted that the older the person was, the more likely he or she was to have pain.

This study indicated that osteoarthritis was more common in the urban population than what was shown in the last prevalence study, conducted in the 1970s. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in the early 1970s found that less than 1 percent of 55- to 79-year-olds felt hip pain due to osteoarthritis.

The study authors noted that those who lived in rural areas, such as farmers, often had higher rates of osteoarthritis than urban residents.

They reported that the surveyed population was mainly white. Previous studies have suggested osteoarthritis of the hip was more common among blacks.

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in middle-aged and older people and accounts for many of the 231,000 total hip replacements in the US each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

This study appeared in the August issue of Arthritis and Rheumatology.

The National Institutes of Health provided funding. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 15, 2014
Last Updated:
August 18, 2014