Updated 08 November 2016

Knee pain while using stairs first sign of arthritis

Discomfort with walking, standing, lying or sitting comes later - knee pain study finds.


Having knee pain while using the stairs may be an early sign of arthritis, a new study suggests.

Earlier intervention

"At present, we have little concept of 'early' osteoarthritis and often only see people when they have significant, longstanding pain and loss of function," research leader Philip Conaghan, a professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds in England, said in a university news release.

"This research is vital to understanding early symptoms of knee osteoarthritis," he said.

Read: Knee pain may run in the family

The study included more than 4,600 people who were at high risk for arthritis.  Researchers followed the volunteers for up to seven years.

First sign of pain

Using stairs was the first weight-bearing activity in which people with early knee arthritis noticed pain.

They later developed pain while walking, standing, lying or sitting, and finally, while resting in bed.

Read: Extra weight comes with more knee pain

"Knowing this will help us intervene earlier, perhaps leading to more effective ways of treating this very painful condition," Conaghan explained.

The study was published in the January issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Read More:

Drug-free relief for knee pain

Running won't raise risk of knee arthritis


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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