According to the data on knee pain incidence levels within different groups, increased knee pain is associated with aging. According to research by Richard F. Loeser, MD, that was released in Clinics in Geriatric Medicine in 2011, OA escalates with age to the extent that 30 to 50% of adults aged 65 or over suffer from the disease.
Knees are similar to other weight-bearing joints within the body in the basic fact that they have to work against gravity. Each step we take throughout the day leads to some amount of wear-and-tear. Because of that, it is easier to understand the connection to aging, as described by Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago medical director Joel Press, MD. “The more years and the more steps you take, the more wear and tear there can be,” he said.
Let’s look at reasons that knee pain tends to increase with age, along with what can be done to safely and effectively treat it.
3 common reasons for knee pain with aging
We can better understand why joint pain goes along with aging by looking at osteoarthritis (OA) and other factors that lead to the pain:
Knee pain can be caused by various forms of arthritis, ranging from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis to gout. However, since OA is the most common form of arthritis, it makes sense to look at it in its own right by reviewing another pool of data – the Framingham Osteoarthritis Study. This study looked at 1420 people who were at least 60 years old. Radiographic OA became more common over time throughout that population, with the incidence level at 33% for those aged 60-70 and 43.7% for those who were at least 80. Since OA is so common among older populations, that also means that knee pain occurs more frequently
Many of us gain weight as we age. The excess weight leads to additional load on the knees. Obesity leads to OA, which in turn leads to knee pain.
Muscles typically shrink 40% from the age of 20 to 60. That means a loss of strength. The hips and leg muscles incur pressure from the legs that occurs during walking and everyday tasks. Weakness in the muscles means a loss of support of the joints and the development of knee pain.
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