New research published in Arthritis and Rheumatology suggests that individuals with knee pain are more likely to have pain in other joints in their body.
For their study, researchers analyzed two large cohort studies of patients with or at risk of knee pain and osteoarthritis. Both of the studies asked participants about their pain and discomfort levels in their knees, as well as pain in 14 other joints of the body. X-rays were also taken to provide a medical diagnosis of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Researchers then compared the findings of those with osteoarthritis to those without the condition or joint pain. Between the two studies, 693 individuals stated they had knee pain, while 2,793 said they did not.
Knee Joint Study
Even though the majority of participants did not have knee pain or diagnosed osteoarthritis, they reported pain in an average of 1.3 of the other joints surveyed in the study. However patients with knee pain reported that they had pain in an average of 2.3 other joints in their body.
Researchers said that the increased likelihood of joint pain after dealing with knee pain is because knee discomfort and osteoarthritis may alter a person’s gait, which can gradually cause damage and put excess pressure on other areas of the body, like the hips and ankles.
“Since damage to other joints is likely cumulative, evidence that these account for multi-joint pain in those with knee OA would constitute a powerful argument for early treatment of knee OA to prevent this damage,” wrote the authors.
However, it wasn’t just the hips and ankles where people were reporting pain, suggesting researchers need to conduct further studies to better understand these pain pathways.
“Our findings suggest that the sites affected are more than just the hip and ankle and that there is no special predilection for pain in these locations.”
Dr. Lynn Webster, vice president of Scientific Affairs, PRA Health Sciences, and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, said the findings shine a light on just how destructive the onset of arthritis can be on other areas of our body.
“Arthritis is a systemic disease, so it would not be uncommon to find multiple joints with pain and disease in people with very advanced knee arthritis,” said Dr. Webster.