Research suggests Arthritis and Joint Pain occurs more frequently in women aged 85 years and older
Research carried out by Newcastle University and announced today in the journal Age and Ageing has found that the lifetime prevalence of arthritis in 85 year olds to be 65.4%, occurring most commonly in women. The findings of this research suggest that the prevalence of arthritis is higher in comparison to previous studies of 85 year olds.
Arthritis is a condition that is strongly associated with age, yet surprisingly few studies have investigated how arthritis affects the oldest old – those aged 85 years and older – who will number 3.3 million in the UK by 2033.
The research published today is from an observational cohort study that looked at 1040 85 year olds, born in 1921, from general practices in Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside Primary Care Trusts. The results showed that the lifetime prevalence of ‘any arthritis’ was high, occurring in 673 participants (65.4%) and was more common in women than men (69.1% vs 58.8%, p=0.001)
Osteoarthritis was found to be prevalent in 534 participants (51.9%) and was found more in women than men (57.1% vs 42.5%). Osteoarthritis was most common in the knee joint followed by the hip and hand. Many participants identified the knee as the most painful joint, although the foot, ankle and lower back received the highest pain score. Women reported a higher median pain score for all joints with the exception of the shoulder and foot.
In the last month, almost two-thirds of our population reported joint pain, with 71.7% reporting pain occurring on most days of the month. This is marginally higher than previous population studies including those aged 85+: United Kingdom 56.9% (women 64.5%, men 44.2%) and 53.6% (women 58.3%, men 39.6%), Netherlands 57% (women 62%, male 47%), Sweden (women 48.7%, men 12.9%)
The authors of the study have stated that: “Establishing the impact of arthritis on disability, health and wellbeing and healthcare use, is fundamental before we can determine treatment approaches and measure their success; particularly in the presence of multimorbidity in this age group. The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in the oldest old is potentially huge and its management presents a major challenge. “
Prof Louise Robinson, GP and RCGP Champion for Older People’s Health and Wellbeing, comments that "This new research, from a large cohort study of the oldest old, reveals that osteoarthritis is more common in the over 85 year olds that perhaps GPs realise. Much of the care we provide on the management of long term chronic conditions is evidence - based and as a consequence, we have quality outcome markers to adhere to; however this is not so for osteoarthritis. It would be interesting to explore how well gps manage a condition as common as this in the oldest old"
- Arthritis and joint pain are highly prevalent in the oldest old
- Knee osteoarthritis and cervical spondylosis were the most common diagnoses
- In the 11 joint areas studied, pain occurred more frequently in women in all areas
- Women reported a higher total of painful joints than men
- 13.5% of participants had undergone either a hip or knee replacement
The Newcastle 85+ Study is supported by a joint grant from the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Grant No G0500997). This work was supported by the UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ageing and Age-related disease award to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The pilot study was supported by grants from the Dunhill Medical Trust, Unilever Corporate Research, the British Heart Foundation, Newcastle University and Newcastle Primary Care Trust. We are grateful for the support of the Newcastle and North Tyneside Primary Care Trusts and the local general practitioners and their staff. We warmly thank the research nurses for their effort, Pauline Potts for data management and Lucy Farfort for secretarial work. Thanks are especially due to the 85 years olds of Newcastle and North Tyneside for their participation in the study.
Note to reporters:
Any mention or reporting of data from this article should be attributed to the journal of Age and Ageing
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Gabby Fletcher | 01865 35 39 69 |