Knee pain 'common' among middle-aged and older women

Published on 19 December 2011
Knee pain 'common' among middle-aged and older women

Knee pain is a common complaint among middle-aged and older women, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Oxford.

Researchers analysed data on more than 1,000 women, aged 44 to 57 years, who had taken part in the Chingford Study - a prospective study of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis that began in 1989.

Twelve years after the start of the study, data on self-reported knee pain were collected on the 489 women who were still taking part.

The researchers found that 44 per cent of women reported feeling 'any days of pain', while 23 per cent said they had experienced pain on most days during the previous month.

Patients with persistent pain were more likely to have a high body mass index (BMI), a history of previous knee injuries and radiographic osteoarthritis.

The study, which is published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, also highlighted the variable nature of knee pain, with few women consistently reporting knee pain at every check-up.

Lead author Professor Nigel Arden, professor of rheumatology at the University of Oxford, said: "Our study is the first community-based investigation of knee pain patterns using multiple assessment points over a 12-year period.

"Understanding the prevalence and predictors of knee pain is the first step in developing comprehensive pain assessment plans that could lead to more targeted treatment options for those burdened by osteoarthritis."

"This study provides further evidence of what we already know: that obesity, ageing and having a previous injury all contribute to the development of osteoarthritis of the knee, and that associated knee pain fluctuates over time," said a spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK, the medical research charity which funds the Chingford Study, on which the findings are based.

"It provides a strong mandate for our forthcoming research into arthritis caused by sports injuries, and examining the effects of musculoskeletal ageing and how this can possibly be reduced through diet and exercise.

"We'd encourage anyone with knee pain to move it or lose it; to keep moving and be as active and mobile as possible to keep pain and stiffness at bay."