Is painful knee and hand osteoarthritis in women associated with excess mortality?

Research looking at risk of early mortality of British middle-aged women and osteoarthritis was presented today at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases. It shows that any painful knee osteoarthritis is strongly associated with early overall and cardiovascular mortality. Interestingly these findings are independent to most of the known risk factors linked with early mortality. The study was based on the data from the Chingford Study. This is community based data from a cohort of middle-aged women followed up for 24 years. It was used to evaluate the effect of knee and hand pain with or without radiographic osteoarthritis on early overall and disease specific mortality.

The researchers’ objective was to compare a group of women with painful knee or hand osteoarthritis to mortality of women without osteoarthritis. Knee and hand symptoms, radiographic changes, majority of known cardiovascular risk factors and overall, cardiovascular, and cancer-related mortality were assessed based on study follow-up in 2014 and data from all available death certificates at this point.

The average follow-up was around 22 years. During that time the women with knee pain and radiographic osteoarthritis had an almost 2-fold increased risk of early overall mortality and over 3-fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality, when compared with women without knee pain or radiographic changes. There was no link between hand osteoarthritis and excess mortality risk.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Stefan Kluzek of the ARUK Centre of Excellence for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, University of Oxford, stated, “These findings suggest that any self-reported knee pain in osteoarthritis, as opposed to hand pain, seems to be a crucial factor leading to early cardiovascular mortality and is likely to be linked with decreased mobility.

Radiographic osteoarthritis without pain is not affecting long-term mortality. More research is needed to understand how people adapt to knee pain, and how this leads to cardiovascular impairment.”

What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) consist of minor physical disabilities. This term is used to describe a variety of conditions that affect the muscles, bones, and joints. The severity of the MSD can vary. Pain and discomfort may interfere with everyday activities. MSDs are extremely common, and your risk increases with age. Early diagnosis is the key to ease pain while potentially decreasing further bodily damage.

Types of MSDs

MSDs can affect all major areas of the body, including the:

-  neck
-  shoulders
-  wrists
-  back (upper and lower)
-  hips
-  legs
-  knees
-  feet (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2009)

Is painful knee and hand osteoarthritis in women associated with excess mortality Given the different areas of the body that make up the musculoskeletal system, several other diseases can produce significant musculoskeletal signs and symptoms.  These other disorders include:

-  low back pain
-  fibromyalgia
-  gout
-  osteoarthritis
rheumatoid arthritis
-  tendinitis

Some of these disorders can cause mild discomfort to debilitating pain. Low back pain is the most common MSD



Is painful knee and hand osteoarthritis in women associated with excess mortality OC12 Painful knee but not hand osteoarthritis predicts excess mortality in a community-based cohort of middle-aged women with 23 years of follow-up
Osteoporosis International, Vol. 26, S 1. 2015

About IOF

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the world’s largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. IOF members, including committees of scientific researchers, leading companies, as well as more than 200 patient, medical and research societies, work together to make bone, joint and muscle health a worldwide heath care priority.


The European Society for Clinical & Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO) is a non-profit organization, dedicated to a close interaction between clinical scientists dealing with rheumatic disorders, pharmaceutical industry developing new compounds in this field, regulators responsible for the registration of such drugs and health policy makers, to integrate the management of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis within the comprehensive perspective of health resources utilization. The objective of ESCEO is to provide practitioners with the latest clinical and economic information, allowing them to organize their daily practice, in an evidence-based medicine perspective, with a cost-conscious perception.

About the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis & Musculoskeletal Diseases

Held jointly by IOF and ESCEO, the Congress is taking place in Milan, Italy from March 26-29, 2015. It is the world’s largest annual forum for the presentation of clinical research and new advances in the prevention and management of bone, muscle and joint disorders. The next Congress will be held in Malaga, Spain from April 14-17, 2016


Charanjit K. Jagait, Ph.D.
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International Osteoporosis Foundation

  Osteoporosis International

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