Arthritis is a common cause of hip and knee pain and is especially prevalent in people over the age of 55. Oftentimes people with hip or knee arthritis also report having back pain that further limits their mobility and quality of life. Studies have shown that 40% of patients with hip or knee arthritis suffer from chronic low back pain, but it has been unclear whether these problems are related or if they can help us predict the progression of the arthritis.
A recent study published by the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics in 2010 examined the relationship between patients with back pain and hip or knee arthritis. This study aimed to determine if the presence of back pain could predict future arthritis-related pain and disability in individuals with hip and knee arthritis.
During the study 983 people aged 55 or over with hip/knee pain were surveyed to establish the severity of their condition as well as any back pain symptoms they did or did not have. After 4-5 years, a follow-up survey was conducted with the same people to assess how their hip/knee pain had progressed. After standardizing the data and controlling for certain variables that could skew the data, the results found that the presence of low back pain at the baseline measurement was significantly correlated with higher hip and/or knee arthritis pain at the follow-up. This relationship was strongest for predicting hip pain. However, low back pain was not associated with increased pain and disability of the knee.
The results of this large population-based study conclude that individuals suffering from arthritis related hip and/or knee pain and low back pain are more likely to have a worse prognosis for their hip pain, but not their knee pain. Therefore, if you are suffering from hip pain and back pain, addressing only the hip pain may result in poorer outcomes and an increased severity of symptoms if the back pain is not corrected.
- Maja Stupar, Pierre Côté, Melissa R. French, Gillian A. Hawker The Association Between Low Back Pain and Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee: A Population-Based Cohort Study. JMPT June 2010 Vol. 33, Issue 5, Pages 349-354.