Running With Knee Pain

Many doctors tell patients who have knee pain that they should avoid jogging and running and maybe take up walking instead. They do this because they think that jogging causes stress that can lead to the development of osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee. Recently, however, the journal Arthritis Care & Research published surprising findings about the relationship between jogging and OA.

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine compared the association between “leisure running” on frequent knee pain, radiographic OA, and symptomatic OA. Their study included 2,637 men and women with a mean age of 64. The researchers found no increased risk of symptomatic OA among runners. Although they weren’t able to draw any conclusions on the effect of running on people who already had OA, they did say “among those without OA, running should not be discouraged because of concern of an increased risk for developing knee OA or associated frequent knee pain.”

The researchers also noted that runners tended to have a lower body-mass index, which is a standard measure of body fat based on height and weight. This factor, they suggested, might help explain why runners were at lower risk of OA.

A related presentation by the American College of Rheumatology made three more points. First, it said, OA has a genetic component and is passed down through generations. Hand OA, for example, occurs in families, and studies have found 60% and 39% heritability factors in hip and knee OA, respectively.

Second, it reported that in a new study, researchers had confirmed that knee pain isn’t always confined to the knee, but that people with “frequently” painful knees often develop pain in joints below the knee.

Finally, the presentation reported the results of a study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage that studied the relationship between different shoes and knee adduction movement (KAM), which is known to be associated with the severity of knee OA. The researchers concluded that “stable supportive shoes” increased the KAM “significantly more than flat flexible shoes.” In other words, flat flexible shoes seem to be the way to go for people with knee OA.

Want to learn more about treating knee osteoarthritis? Read “Knee Injections Reduce Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis,” “Knee Brace Can Alleviate Osteoarthritis Pain,” and “Silk In Knee Replacements.”

Joseph Gustaitis is a freelance writer and editor based in the Chicago area.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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