FROM ARTHRITIS CARE & RESEARCH
Hip and knee osteoarthritis on their own predict difficulty walking in adults aged 55 years and older to a greater extent than do diabetes or cardiovascular disease individually, according to findings from a Canadian population-based study.
The ability of hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) to predict difficulty walking also increased with the number of joints affected and acted additively with either diabetes or cardiovascular disease (CVD) or both to raise the odds for walking problems, reported Lauren K. King, MBBS, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues.
The investigators noted that “one quarter of adults aged 55 years and older report difficulty walking, which has been linked to adverse outcomes among people with chronic diseases,” and so they wanted to determine the relative impact of the common chronic health conditions of hip and knee OA, diabetes, and CVD on self-reported difficulty walking.
To determine the impact of hip and knee OA on difficulty walking, the researchers reviewed data from 18,490 adults recruited between 1996 and 1998. The average age of the participants was 68 years, 60% were women, and 25% reported difficulty with walking during the past 3 months ( Arthritis Care Res. 2017 May 17 doi: 10.1002/acr.23250 ). They completed questionnaires about their health conditions, and the researchers developed a clinical nomogram using their final multivariate logistic model.
The researchers calculated that the predicted probability of difficulty walking for a 60-year-old, middle-income, normal-weight woman with no health conditions was 5%-10%. However, the probability of walking problems was 10%-20% for the same woman with diabetes and CVD; 40% with osteoarthritis in two hips/knees; 60%-70% with diabetes, CVD, and osteoarthritis in two hips/knees; and 80% with diabetes, CVD, and osteoarthritis in all hips/knees.
Overall, 10% of the participants met criteria for hip OA and 15% met criteria for knee OA. The most common chronic conditions were hypertension (43%), diabetes (11%), and CVD (11%).
In a multivariate analysis, individuals with knee or hip OA had the highest odds of reporting walking difficulty, and the odds increased with the number of joints affected.
The results were limited by the cross-sectional nature of the study and the use of self-reports, the researchers noted.
However, “Given the high prevalence of OA and the substantial physical, social, and psychological consequences of walking difficulty, we believe our findings have high clinical relevance to primary care physicians and internal medicine specialists beyond rheumatology,” they said.
“Further research is warranted to understand the mechanisms by which chronic conditions affect mobility, physical activity, and sedentary behavior, and to elucidate safe and effective management approaches to reduce OA-related walking difficulty,” they added.
None of the investigators had relevant financial disclosures to report.