Purpose: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of chronic disability amongst community-dwelling older adults. Yet, little is understood about the daily experience of knee OA. As clinicians we fail to understand a large group of individuals that we aim to help. We conducted an exploratory study that aimed to understand the experience of living with knee OA in older adults.
Method: We used a descriptive phenomenology, grounded in the phenomenology in practice tradition. We conducted nine interviews with participants with physician-diagnosed knee OA, of different ages, sexes, cultural backgrounds and self-perceptions. Ninety-minute interviews with each participant were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. We used the vanKaam method of phenomenological analysis, modified by Moustakas, as the framework for data analysis.
Findings: The following five themes on living with knee OA emerged: experiencing knee pain is central to daily living, experiencing mobility limitations devalues self-worth, sharing the experience, assessing our own health and managing chronic pain.
Conclusions: The implications of these findings highlight the profound impact knee OA has on daily living, which have been poorly documented in the past. Clinicians should consider that the consequences of living with knee OA are significant enough to influence a person's sense of self-worth.