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Knee Pain Most Likely Due to Osteoarthritis

Case subjects who develop pain have meniscal damage, but so do controls who don't

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Meniscal damage is modestly associated with the development of frequent knee pain in older adults, but the pain appears more directly related to osteoarthritis, according to study findings published online Nov. 29 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Martin Englund, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues followed 110 case knees and 220 controls in individuals aged 50 to 79 recruited from the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. Subjects, all of whom were considered at risk for osteoarthritis, were interviewed and examined at baseline and at 15 months. Case knees were defined as those for which subjects reported no frequent knee pain, aching or stiffness at baseline but did report frequent pain, aching or stiffness at 15 months.

Meniscal damage was observed in both case and control groups (38 percent and 29 percent, respectively). After controlling for confounders, there was approximately 20 percent increased odds of developing frequent pain, aching or stiffness per unit increase in baseline meniscal score (odds ratio 1.21). However, meniscal damage was mostly present in knees with radiographic osteoarthritis at baseline, and little evidence was found that meniscal damage directly caused later symptoms.

"It is a challenge for the health care professional to discriminate between knee pain caused by osteoarthritis and pain that may arise from meniscal damage," the authors conclude.

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