Background and aims: The prevalence of knee and hip symptoms varies from study to study, or is unknown. The goals of this study were to determine the prevalence of these symptoms, of diagnosed osteoarthritis and the use of prostheses, by age and gender, in a sample of the general older population.
Methods: We mailed a questionnaire to 11,002 people aged 60 to 90 years who were selected by stratified random sampling. The questionnaire included questions on pain, functional limitations, diagnosed osteoarthritis, previous operations on either or both joints, and sociodemographic data. Descriptive statistics were performed.
Results: From 10,150 people who fulfilled the selection criteria, 74.6% answered the questionnaire. Up to 49.2% of the subjects reported pain in either knee or hip or both, with pain in the knee reported more frequently (38.3%) than the hip (23.8%). Functional limitations were present in 51.6% of respondents, with 42.5% having limitations in the knees and 27.7% in the hips. The symptoms increased with age and were more prevalent in women. About 6.6% of respondents reported that they had already had prosthesis implant (hip 3.9%; knee 2.6%). The presence of a hip prosthesis was slightly lower in women than in men and more women had a knee prosthesis. Physicians had already diagnosed osteoarthritis in 38.5% of the sample, 19.4% of the hip and 31% of the knee.
Conclusions: The prevalence of pain symptoms is relatively high among older people, more often in the knee and, in both joints, more often in women, but the rate of prosthetic surgeries was low, which means that additional studies are necessary to gain insight into the healthcare needs of the population.