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A new study has indicated that osteoarthritis patients who experience knee buckling are more likely to fall and injure themselves.
The US research, which was led by the University of California, San Francisco and supported by the UK's University of Manchester, has indicated that steps should be taken to address knee buckling problems among these individuals in order to help protect them from such injuries.
The prevalence of knee buckling
Knee buckling is the term used to describe the sensation that occurs when the knee suddenly feels unstable and gives way. It can be a common complaint among those who have suffered damage to their knee joints.
Prior to this study, it was not known whether or not knee instability contributes to the increased risk of falls and fractures seen in people with knee osteoarthritis, so researchers asked 1,842 men and women aged 55 to 84 years who had been taking part in the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study for 60 months to relate their experiences of knee buckling.
They were questioned on whether they had felt their knees buckle in the past three months and whether they had fallen as a result, with falls and related injuries in the past 12 months assessed at 60 and 84 months, alongside balance confidence.
Figures published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research indicated that 16.8 per cent of the group reported buckling at 60 months and 14.1 per cent experienced recurrent falls at 84 months.
Taking preventative measures
It was shown that people who experienced buckling at 60 months were between 1.6 and 2.5 times more likely to have suffered recurrent falls, a fear of falling and poor confidence in their own sense of balance at 84 months.
Those who fell when a knee buckled at the outset of the study were 4.5 times more likely to experience recurrent falls two years later, as well as being twice as likely to suffer significant fall injuries, three times more likely to sustain fall injuries that limited their activity and at a fourfold greater risk of poor balance confidence.
The researchers concluded: "Interventions that reduce knee buckling may help prevent falls, fall-related injuries and adverse psychological consequences of falls in persons with knee osteoarthritis."
The Arthritis Research UK view
Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "This is an interesting research study, highlighting the relationship between knee buckling and osteoarthritis. This research will help us to better understand how to prevent further injury for the 8.5 million people living with the condition in the UK.
"Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, and Arthritis Research UK is funding a number of research projects looking at the cause, prevention and treatment. Researchers leading our TRIO study at the University of Edinburgh are looking at targeted rehabilitation to improve outcome after knee replacement."
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