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Knee Instability Increases Risk of Falls in Older Adults

Those who experience knee buckling are at increased risk of recurrent falls

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MONDAY, Feb. 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Symptoms of knee instability, such as knee buckling, are associated with increased risk of falls in older adults, according to research published online Feb. 8 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Michael C. Nevitt, Ph.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues asked 1,842 men and women, aged 55 to 84 years, at the 60-month visit of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study, whether they had knee buckling in the past three months, and whether they fell when a knee buckled. At 60 and 84 months, falls and fall-related injuries in the past 12 months and balance confidence were assessed.

The researchers found that at 60 months, 16.8 percent of patients reported buckling, and at 84 months, 14.1 percent of patients had two or more falls. Those who reported knee buckling at the 60-month visit were 1.6 to 2.5 times more likely to have recurrent falls, fear of falling, and poor balance confidence at 84 months. Those who fell when a knee buckled at baseline were 4.5, 2.0, and 3.0 times more likely, two years later, to have recurrent falls, substantial fall injuries, and fall injuries that limited activity, respectively. They were also 4.0 times more likely to have poor balance confidence.

"Finding effective treatments for knee instability should be a priority and may help prevent knee buckling and falls and their adverse consequences in older persons with knee pain," the authors write.

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