“Creaky” is how Paulette Rochelle-Levy describes her knees. The 69-year old Santa Monica, California woman leads a very active lifestyle, but has trouble walking down stairs, jumping and hiking. And she’s not alone. Knee pain is a common complaint in middle aged and elderly women, with nearly two-thirds reporting knee pain, according to a new British study.
The study, recently published online in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found knee pain was most common in women over 50 who had a high body mass index (BMI), osteoarthritis or a previous knee injury. Researchers in the U.K. studied 12 years of data from the Chingford Study, a population-based study of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, making their study the first of its kind to investigate patterns of knee pain using multiple assessment points over time.
“Understanding the prevalence and predictors of knee pain is the first step in developing comprehensive pain assessment plans that could lead to more targeted treatment options for those burdened by osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Nigel Arden, a Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford
63 percent of the nearly 500 women studied reported knee pain at least once, persistently, or intermittently during the course of the 12-year investigation.
“That’s part of the human condition in many individuals,” said Beverly Hills rheumatologist Dr. Rodney Bluestone, a former chairman of the southern California chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. “The older you get, the more you have knee pain. The more athletic you get, the more you have internal derangement of the joint.”
Rochelle-Levy, a Santa Monica psychotherapist, never missed work on account of her knee pain, but it has affected her dancing and yoga practice. She is an avid dancer, yoga practitioner and yoga teacher.
“Because of my knees, I have found that yoga is not as much fun,” she told the American News Report. “I can dance for hours with no problem, as long as it’s on a flat surface, but then when it’s over I have trouble walking down the stairs.”
But, she adds, “It’s not running my life and it’s not ruining my life.”
Rochelle-Levy is lucky she can manage her pain so well. According to the American College of Rheumatology, more than 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, with pain being the most problematic symptom. Besides the physical toll, osteoarthritis is a costly burden on the economy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates job-related costs of osteoarthritis at up to $13.2 billion per year.