The prevalence of knee osteoarthritis in younger adults is increasing, according to a new study published in Arthritis Care and Research.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is typically thought of as an affliction of the elderly but increasing rates of obesity of and knee trauma means the condition is affecting more middle-aged and young adults. Now nearly one in ten Americans will develop the disabiling condition by the time they’re 60 years old, the study shows. The median early diagnosis of knee OA has also dropped to 55 years.
Researchers from Harvard University analyzed data from the 2007-8 National Health Interview Survey to identify incidence rates of knee OA in adults according to age, race, and gender. Obesity and age were the biggest risk factors for knee OA. Obese women had the highest risk of knee OA (23.87%) while nonobese men had the lowest risk (9.6%). Women also had an elevated risk, with 16.4% of women suffering from the condition compared to 11.42% of men.
This earlier onset of knee arthritis is likely why more middle-aged adults are receiving total knee replacement surgery, according to another recent study. The average age of total knee replacement surgeries has dropped from 66 to 69 years to 45-64 years. Now 40% of arthroplasties on patients under the age of 65.
Despite growing rates of the surgery in younger patients, a recent study from Oxford University found that their is inconsistent evidence on the efficacy and reliability of many knee replacements. The Oxford researchers discovered that many adults who receive a knee replacement may not have needed it in the first place, due to mild symptoms or younger age. They suggested that many surgeries could be avoided with early conservative management of knee OA.
Research shows that chiropractic care, exercise, yoga, and acupuncture can all help to alleviate arthritic knee symptoms. One recent study found that exercise therapy was as effective as surgery in reducing knee pain. Another study showed that chiropractic manual therapies significantly improved disability, pain, and mobility in patients with knee OA.
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Losina E, et al. Lifetime risk and age at diagnosis of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in the US. Arthritis Care and Research2013; 65: 703-711.
“Knee Replacements Up Dramatically Among Adults 45 to 64 Years Old.” Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. November 3, 2011. Accessed January 2, 2012. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn110311.html.
Walsh, Nancy. Arthritis Setting in to Increasingly Younger Knees. Medpage Today. April 30, 2013. Accessed May 8, 2013. http://www.medpagetoday.com/TheGuptaGuide/Rheumatology/38768