Objective: To document the prevalence of radiographic osteoarthritis (OA) in the medial and lateral patellofemoral (PF) joint compartments relative to the prevalence of tibiofemoral (TF) joint OA in middle-aged and older adults with chronic PF knee pain.
Methods: A convenience sample of 224 people who volunteered for a clinical trial underwent weight-bearing posteroanterior and skyline knee radiographs of their most symptomatic eligible knee. Radiographic severity in the TF joint and in the medial and lateral PF joint compartments was independently graded by 2 examiners using the Kellgren/Lawrence (K/L) grading system. K/L grades ≥2 were considered evidence of OA.
Results: OA was common in this cohort, and the most prevalent pattern was combined TF joint and PF joint OA (n = 98 [44%]), followed by isolated PF joint OA (n = 57 [25%]). Isolated TF joint OA was rare. Overall, more people demonstrated radiographic OA in the PF joint (n = 155 [69%]) than in the TF joint (n = 100 [45%]). The majority of people with PF joint OA had OA in both the medial and lateral PF joint compartments (n = 98 [63%]). Even in people ages <50 years, radiographic OA was common (isolated PF joint OA, 26% [n = 21]; combined TF joint and PF joint OA, 29% [n = 23]). The severity of PF joint OA was similar across men and women.
Conclusion: PF joint OA was highly prevalent, more so than TF joint OA, and even in individuals ages <50 years. Further research is needed to elucidate the cause and effect relationship between chronic PF pain and PF joint OA.