Knee Osteoarthritis and the Risk of Medically Treated Injurious Falls Among Older Adults: A Community-Based US Cohort Study

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019 Jul;71(7):865-874. doi: 10.1002/acr.23725. Epub 2019 Jun 13.


Objective: The risk of falls among adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) has been documented, yet, to our knowledge no studies have examined knee OA and the risk of medically treated injurious falls (overall and by sex), which is an outcome of substantial clinical and public health relevance.

Methods: Using data from the Health Aging and Body Composition Knee Osteoarthritis Substudy, a community-based study of white and African American older adults, we tested associations between knee OA status and the risk of injurious falls among 734 participants with a mean ± SD age of 74.7 ± 2.9 years. Knee radiographic OA (ROA) was defined as having a Kellgren-Lawrence grade of ≥2 in at least 1 knee. Knee symptomatic ROA (sROA) was defined as having both ROA and pain symptoms in the same knee. Injurious falls were defined using a validated diagnosis code algorithm from linked Medicare fee-for-service claims. Cox regression modeling was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).

Results: The mean ± SD follow-up time was 6.59 ± 3.12 years. Of the 734 participants, 255 (34.7%) had an incident injurious fall over the entire study period. In the multivariate model, compared with those without ROA or pain, individuals with sROA (HR 1.09 [95% CI 0.73-1.65]) did not have a significantly increased risk of injurious falls. Compared with men without ROA or pain, men with sROA (HR 2.57 [95% CI 1.12-5.91]) had a significantly higher risk of injurious falls. No associations were found for women or by injurious fall type.

Conclusion: Knee sROA was independently associated with an increased risk of injurious falls in older men, but not in older women.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Time Factors