Knee pain experienced when using the stairs may signal the onset of early osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, University of Leeds experts say. The results stem from research appearing in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research designed to determine which patient-reported activities are first linked to knee pain, in an effort to improve early detection of OA and increase the chances of individuals seeking effective treatment.

Study leader Philip Conaghan, MB, BS, PhD, FRACP, FRCP, professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine in the School of Medicine, notes in a university news story, “At present we have little concept of ‘early’ osteoarthritis and often only see people when they have significant long-standing pain and loss of function. This research is vital to understanding early symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.”

Conaghan adds in the news story that understanding the early symptoms of knee OA may pave the way to earlier intervention and more effective ways of treating the condition.

During the study, the release states that the team investigated the cases of 4,673 individuals who have, or are at high risk of OA. Participants completed annual surveys for up to 7 years in an effort to assist researchers in tracking the emergence of pain during different activities over a long-term period.

The results suggest that using stairs was the first weight-bearing task in which participants noticed pain. The findings were followed-up by pain emerging during walking, standing, lying, or sitting, and then finally when resting in bed.

[Source: University of Leeds]