Symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) increased during the past 20 years but radiographic OA did not

A recent surge in knee replacements is assumed to be due to aging and increased obesity of the U.S. population.

This cross-sectional study used data from 6 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) surveys between 1971 and 2004 and from 3 examination periods in the FOA (Framingham Osteoarthritis) Study between 1983 through 2005 of the U.S. population.

Prevalence of knee pain increased by 65% in NHANES from 1974 to 1994.

In the FOA Study, prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis doubled in women and tripled in men over 20 years.

However, no such trend was observed in the prevalence of radiographic knee osteoarthritis.

Prevalence of knee pain has increased substantially over 20 years. Obesity accounted for only part of this increase.

Symptomatic knee osteoarthritis increased but radiographic knee osteoarthritis did not. Why the patients are more symptomatic now than 20 years ago?

Research Finds Exercise is Good for Arthritis (a Cleveland Clinic video):

What is Boomeritis?

In 2006, the NYTimes described the health problems of aging baby boomers who continue to exercise: osteoarthritis which needs "knee and hip replacements, surgery for cartilage and ligament damage, and treatment for tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis and stress fractures." Some doctors call this phenomenon "boomeritis" or "Generation Ouch."


Increasing Prevalence of Knee Pain and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis: Survey and Cohort Data. ANN INTERN MED, December 6, 2011, vol. 155 no. 11 725-732.

What is Boomeritis?

Image source:, public domain.

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