Planned or recent first consultation with the general practitioner for knee complaints: Is it indicative of early-stage knee osteoarthritis?

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No established definition for early-stage knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is available, nor classification criteria. Identifying the characteristics of individuals presenting with early-stage KOA symptoms can enhance diagnosis to prevent progression. This study aimed to describe clinical and structural features of individuals presenting with knee complaints within two years after their first consultation, while exploring differences in the duration of knee complaints.

Baseline data was used from the LITE randomized controlled trial, assessing the effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention for individuals with knee complaints and overweight in primary care. Baseline assessments included questionnaires, clinical assessment, and MRI of the most symptomatic knee. Differences between groups with varying durations of knee complaints (<12, ≥12-<24, ≥24 months) were evaluated.

Participants (N ​= ​218, 65% female, mean age 59 ​± ​6 years, mean BMI 32 ​± ​5 ​kg/m2) had a median knee complaint duration of 14 months, with an average KOOS pain score of 60 ​± ​17.46% reported their symptoms as unacceptable. Structural MRI-defined KOA was observed in 71% of participants. There were no significant differences in clinical or structural MRI features between different durations of knee complaints.

Within 24 months of initial consultation, over two-thirds of participants displayed MRI-defined structural KOA, and nearly half reported unacceptable symptom states. This study found no association between the duration of knee complaints and symptoms severity or structural KOA presence, underscoring the complexity of identifying stages of KOA among individuals with overweight. Future studies should explore additional features beyond current considerations to facilitate early-stage KOA diagnosis, specifically for individuals with overweight.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100493
Number of pages8
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage Open
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2024

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