Knee pain going upstairs may signal arthritis
As you get older, climbing the stairs may become more challenging. However, according to a new study, if walking up those stairs is starting to cause mild to significant knee pain, it may be the first warning sign of arthritis.
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, swelling, redness, decreased range of motion and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“It is an interesting observational study. It makes sense that you would feel pain going up the stairs because your knee has to bend in a 90 degree angle,” says Dr. Dennis Levinston, a rheumatologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago.
The study included more than 4,600 people who were at high risk for arthritis. Researchers followed the volunteers for up to seven years. They found that using stairs was the first weight-bearing activity in which people with early knee arthritis noticed pain. The study participants later developed pain while walking, standing, lying or sitting, and finally, while resting in bed.
“When you have arthritis, there can be mild to significant inflammation that can produce lot of pain,” Dr. Levinston says. “Patients take anything from anti-inflammatory medication to sometimes steroid injections to ultimately surgery if needed. If left untreated, this will be a persistent problem.”
“At present, we have little concept of ‘early’ osteoarthritis and often only see people when they have significant, longstanding pain and loss of function,” research leader Philip Conaghan, a professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds in England, said in a university news release. “This research is vital to understanding early symptoms of knee osteoarthritis,” he said.
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