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Knee Pain When Using Stairs? It May Be An Early Sign Of Osteoarthritis

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Knee pain when using the stairs may be one of the first symptoms of osteoarthritis, a new study reveals.

Researchers at the University of Leeds wanted to find out which patient-reported activity is first associated with knee pain. Their aim was to help clinicians detect the condition at an early stage and so increase the chances of effective intervention.

Philip Conaghan, Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds School of Medicine, led the study. He commented: “At present we have little concept of ‘early´ osteoarthritis and often only see people when they have significant long-standing pain and loss of function. This research is vital to understanding early symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

“Knowing this will help us intervene earlier, perhaps leading to more effective ways of treating this very painful condition.”

The researchers hypothesized that pain would occur first during activities that require weight bearing and bending of the knee.

They looked at the cases of 4,673 people who have, or are at high risk of, osteoarthritis. As part of the long-term study, participants completed annual surveys for up to seven years. The information they provided helped the researchers track the emergence of pain during different activities.

Results revealed that using stairs was the first weight-bearing task in which people noticed pain.

This was followed by pain emerging during walking, standing, lying or sitting down and then finally when resting in bed.

Reporting their findings in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research, the researchers concluded that first appearance of knee pain when using the stairs may identify a group suitable for early intervention strategies.