Slower walking speed may be a marker for incident knee osteoarthritis (OA), say authors of an article published online last month in Arthritis Care & Research.
For this study, 1,858 noninstitutionalized residents age 45 years or older who lived at least 1 year in 1 of 6 townships in Johnston County, North Carolina, completed questionnaires and clinical examinations at baseline and at follow-up testing. Walking time was assessed using a manual stopwatch in 2 trials over an 8-foot distance. Walking speed was calculated as the average of both trials. For the hip and knee, researchers examined 3 outcomes per joint site—radiographic OA (weight-bearing anteroposterior knee radiographs, supine anteroposterior pelvic radiographs of the hip), chronic joint symptom, and symptomatic OA. Covariates included age, gender, race, education, marital status, body mass index, number of prescriptions, depressive symptoms, self-rated health, number of lower-body functional limitations, smoking, physical activity, and number of self-reported, health care provider-diagnosed chronic conditions.
Faster walking speed was consistently associated with lower incidence of radiographic (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=0.88) and symptomatic knee OA (aOR=0.84). Slower walking speed was associated with greater incidence of these outcomes across a broad range of different clinical and radiographic OA outcomes.
APTA member Jama L. Purser, PT, PhD, is lead author of the study. APTA member Yvonne M. Golightly PT, PhD, is coauthor.