Granny's Knee Hurts

Chronic knee pain common for women with osteoarthritis

(RxWiki News) Do you experience knee pain every day, or just every so often? If you are a woman over the age of 50 and your answer is yes, consider yourself a member of a very large club.

New research found that 63 percent of women over 50 experience either persistent or intermittent pain in at least one knee.

You'll be more likely to be among those with persistent or constant pain if you have a higher body mass index (BMI), a previous knee injury, or osteoarthritis, which affects more than 27 million Americans.

"See your doctor if your knee hurts."

The study was led by Dr. Nigel Arden, a Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford. He and his research team wanted to look at knee pain over a long period of time, and determine risk factors for knee pain. This research could help develop better therapeutic strategies for individual health care.

Osteoarthritis was a particular focus, because it is so common. Being able to assess the symptoms of this condition could improve diagnosis and treatment.

The study drew upon data from the participants of the Chingford Study, a study that focused on women with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in North London. Over 1,000 women enrolled in this study. They self-reported their experience of knee pain.

At the end of the 12 year-long study, the women were classified in groups according to how they expressed their knee pain on a monthly basis. The researchers found that 44 percent had experienced “any days of pain”, 23 percent had pain on most days of the previous month.

They divided it down further: Of those women who were classified as having “any pain,” 9 percent had persistent pain, 24 percent had incident pain, and 29 percent had intermittent pain.

Of those who had “pain on most days”, 2 percent had persistent pain, 16 percent had incident pain (pain related to a specific activity), and 18 percent had intermittent pain.

A diagnosis of radiographic osteoarthritis predicted persistent pain in the study participants. Those with a higher BMI were likely to have persistent and incident pain, and those who had knee injuries were likely to have persistent or intermittent pain.

The study authors concluded that the length of their study made it a strong piece of evidence for the prevalence of knee pain, but that more studies should be done to help doctors improve treatment strategies for women with osteoarthritis.

The study was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism in December 2011.

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Review Date: 
December 23, 2011