Women Aged Over 85 Have Higher Prevalence Of Arthritis And Joint Pain

Published today in the journal Age and Ageing, an investigation conducted by Newcastle University has discovered that the lifetime prevalence of arthritis is 65.4% in individuals aged 85, occurring more commonly in women. The discoveries of this investigation indicate that compared to prior research of 85 year olds, the prevalence of arthritis is greater.

Although arthritis is strongly connected with age, very few investigations have studied how the oldest individuals (those aged 85+ years) are affected by the disease, even though by 2033 these individuals will make up for 3.3 million of the population in the UK.

The investigation from an observational cohort study, looked at 1040 individuals aged 85 years old, born in 1921, from GPs in Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside Primary Care Trusts. The results revealed that for ‘any arthritis’ the lifetime prevalence was high, with 673 (65.4%) of the participants having arthritis, they also discovered that the disease was more common in women than men (69.1% vs 58.8%, p=0.001).

In 534 (51.9%) of the participants, osteoarthritis was common, more in women than men (57.1% vs 42.5%). Osteoarthritis was most prevalent in the knee joint followed by the hip and hand. Several of those participating in the study identified the knee as the most painful joint, even though the foot, ankle and lower back received the highest pain score. With the exception of the shoulder and foot, for all joints women reported a higher average pain score.

In the UK, last month, approximately two-thirds of the population reported pain in their joints, with 71.7% reporting pain on most days of the month. This is slightly higher that prior population investigations including individuals aged 85 and over: United Kingdom 56.9% (women 64.5%, men 44.2%) and 53.6% (women 58.3%, men 39.6%), Netherlands 57% (women 62%, male 47%), Sweden (women 48.7%, men 12.9%)

The authors stated that:

  “Establishing the impact of arthritis on disability, health and wellbeing and healthcare use, is fundamental before we can determine treatment approaches and measure their success; particularly in the presence of multimorbidity in this age group. The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in the oldest old is potentially huge and its management presents a major challenge.”

Prof. Louise Robinson, GP and RCGP Champion for Older People’s Health and Wellbeing, explains that: “This new research, from a large cohort study of the oldest old, reveals that osteoarthritis is more common in the over 85 year olds and perhaps GPs realize. Much of the care we provide on the management of long term chronic conditions is evidence - based and as a consequence, we have quality outcome markers to adhere to; however this is not so for osteoarthritis. It would be interesting to explore how well GPs manage a condition as common as in the oldest old.”

Key Points:

  * Arthritis and join pain are highly common in individuals aged 85+
  * The most common diagnoses were knee osteoarthritis and cervical spondylosis
  * In the 11 areas investigated, pain occurred more frequently in women in all areas
  * Compared to men, women reported a higher total of painful joints
  * 13.5% of those who participated had undergone either a hip or knee replacement

Written by Grace Rattue

Provided by ArmMed Media