Unequal leg length tied to osteoarthritis, says Queen's professor

March 31, 2010

KINGSTON, ON - A new study shows that arthritis in the knee is linked to the common trait of having one leg that is longer than the other. Whether or not leg length differential is a direct cause of osteoarthritis is not clear, but the findings may allow people to take preventive measures before the onset of the chronic and painful condition.

Developing early strategies for treatment may be possible, says Derek Cooke, Queen's University adjunct professor and a co-author of the study.

"Most pediatricians adopt a 'wait and see' attitude for children with limb misalignment when they're growing," says Dr. Cooke. "If we can spot factors creating changes in alignment early in bone development, theoretically we could stop or slow down the progression of osteoarthritis."

The data was collected using x-ray images from more than 3,000 adults aged 50 to 79 who either had knee pain or risk factors for knee osteoarthritis as a part of the Multi Centre Osteoarthritis Study (MOST). Subjects were reassessed after a 30-month period and the researchers found that osteoarthritic changes in the knee were most significant in individuals with pronounced (more than 1 cm) leg length inequality, the shorter leg being most affected.

Leg length inequality is difficult to detect. A small leg length differential - 1 cm or less - can be corrected with a shoe insert, while a bigger one can be corrected with surgery. But because the condition often goes undiagnosed, many people don't realize they have a leg length differential until they're diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Arthritis in the knees can cause pain, swelling and stiffness, and limit mobility. Osteoarthritis is very common, affecting 1 in 10 Canadians. The older a person gets, the greater the chance he or she has of developing the disease.

OAISYS Inc. undertook the image analysis work, collecting the limb length and angles measurements for the MOST project.
-end-
William F Harvey from Boston University, currently at Tufts Medical Center, was the lead author on the paper, which was recently published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Queen's University was the only Canadian university involved in this international study.

Queen's University

Related Osteoarthritis Articles from Brightsurf:

Major savings possible with app-based osteoarthritis treatment
Osteoarthritis treatment conducted digitally via an app costs around 25% of what conventional care costs, according to a study from Lund University in Sweden published in the research journal PLOS ONE.

New approach to treating osteoarthritis advances
Injections of a natural 'energy' molecule prompted regrowth of almost half of the cartilage lost with aging in knees, a new study in rodents shows.

Bone drug may be beneficial for knee osteoarthritis
Bisphosphonates (a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone density and used to treat osteoporosis and similar diseases) appear to be safe and beneficial for osteoarthritis patients.

Certain jobs linked to higher risk of knee osteoarthritis
Workers in jobs that typically involve heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting, and standing face an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.

App helps reduce osteoarthritis pain
By performing a few simple physical exercises daily, and receiving information about their disease regularly, 500 osteoarthritis patients were able to on average halve their pain in 6 months -- and improve their physical function.

Osteoarthritis can increase your risk for social isolation
In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined information from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA) study.

High rates of opioid prescriptions for osteoarthritis
Opioids work against severe pain but the risks of side effects and addiction are high.

Disease burden in osteoarthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) has traditionally been viewed as a highly prevalent but milder condition when compared with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and some may believe that it is part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, not treatment.

3D printing may help treat osteoarthritis
In a Journal of Orthopaedic Research study, scientists used 3D printing to repair bone in the joints of mini-pigs, an advance that may help to treat osteoarthritis in humans.

Finger joint enlargements may be linked to knee osteoarthritis
Heberden's nodes (HNs) are bony enlargements of the finger joints that are readily detectable in a routine physical exam and are considered hallmarks of osteoarthritis.

Read More: Osteoarthritis News and Osteoarthritis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.