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Prevalence of Knee Pain and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis Increases Over 20 Years

By January 9, 2012

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The prevalence of knee pain has significantly increased over a 20-year period. According to the December 6, 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed data from 6 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1971-2004) and 3 examination periods from the Framingham Osteoarthritis Study (1983-2005) to determine if the increase was linked to age, obesity, or changes in radiographic knee osteoarthritis (joint damage visible on x-rays).

Researchers concluded that the increased prevalence of knee pain was not due to age or body mass index, although obesity accounted for some of the increased prevalence. After adjustments were made for age and body mass index in NHANES, the prevalence of knee pain increased by 65% among non-Hispanic white and Mexican American men and women, as well as African American women. According to the Framingham study, age-adjusted and BMI-adjusted prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis doubled in women and tripled in men over 20 years. While symptomatic knee osteoarthritis increased, radiographic knee osteoarthritis was not found to increase.

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