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Muscle Strength (But Not Obesity) Predicts Quality of Life With Knee Arthritis

Muscle Strength (But Not Obesity) Predicts Quality of Life With Knee Arthritis

Researchers in Japan have observed women from a 5800-resident rural town in Japan over the decade following 1998 to learn which factors make life bearable (or less so) for those who have osteoarthritis of the knee. Among that population, at least, they find that if more severe osteoarthritis or comorbidities are not a factor, obesity does not correlate significantly with reduced function or increased pain. But the time it takes to stand up from a chair without holding onto something or someone (a proxy for quadriceps muscle strength) is a significant predictor of physical well-being.

The study, reported in Orthopedics, used a custom-designed measure of quality of life called the Japanese Knee Osteoarthritis Measure (JKOM) to judge functional status among the women, who were aged 50 or older at baseline. Factors that significantly and independently predicted poor results on the JKOM were age, severity of knee osteoarthritis, severity of pain, and the time required to rise from a chair unassisted.

The JKOM was not measured at baseline, but as osteoarthritis does not tend to regress, the authors suggest that if anythiing the results underestimate the effect of knee osteoarthritis on quality of life.

The lack of independent association between obesity and quality of life with knee osteoarthritis runs counter to the results of other studies, but these researchers feel that the associations between obesity and osteoarthritis severity or comorbidities may confound those other findings.

To improve quality of life among women with knee osteoarthritis, they suggest, the best strategy is to treat comorbidities, relieve pain, and focus on strengthening the leg muscles.

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