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Knee Buckling a Common Problem for Older Adults

'Giving way' is associated with other forms of physical instability and can lead to falls

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Knee buckling is a common experience among middle-aged and older adults and often leads to falls, researchers report in the Oct. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

David T. Felson, M.D., of Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues interviewed and examined 2,351 participants, median age 63.5 years, from the Framingham Offspring Study and from a newly recruited random sample of the Framingham, Mass., community. All were asked, "Have you had an episode in the past three months where your knee buckled or gave way?"

Nearly 12 percent (278 participants) answered yes, and of those, 217 participants (78.1 percent) reported more than one episode of buckling and 35 (12.6 percent) said they had fallen during an episode. Buckling incidents increased with body mass index and were far more common when the buckled knee was identified as a source of pain. Buckling was also observed to be more common in knees with radiographic osteoarthritis, in persons who complained of pain in leg joints other than the knee, and in persons whose quadriceps strength was relatively weak.

"We suggest that asking patients with knee problems whether they have buckling might identify and prevent consequential events that follow from buckling and falling," the authors conclude.

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