Is Knee Arthritis a Symmetrical Disease?

August 23, 2013


The aim of this study was to document the development of bilateral knee osteoarthritis over a 12 year period using a middle-aged population-based cohort with knee pain at inclusion.


One hundred and forty three patients aged 35 to 54 were recruited from 279 subjects who had knee pain at baseline and assessed with clinical and radiographic data, with 5 and 12 year follow up. The data was analyzed with regard to the development and progression of single-sided and both-sided knee osteoarthritis over 12 years.


Twenty-four of the 30 (80%) patients with single-sided disease at baseline developed disease in the other knee after 12 years. At baseline 37 patients (26%) had both knees with disease, whereas that number increased to 65 (52%) at 5 years and 100 (70%) at the 12 year follow up. The most common pattern was medial compartment involvement in both knees.


Bilateral knee osteoarthritis is very common over time, as the majority of sufferers will eventually develop radiographically confirmed disease in both knees. Clinicians need to be aware of the ‘joint at risk’ and need to remember to account for both knees when assessing the relationship between physical function, pain and structural disease. The other knee should not be used for comparison, even if it appears to be normal at baseline.

How we use this information at Lifestrength

When you come to Lifestrength, Brett, Marci, or Scott will assess your functional level through a thorough history and physical examination.  In the case of knee pain, this will include both knees.  Even though treatment will be aimed at the joint that is currently the problem, we will most likely instruct in an exercise routine that will include both legs.  This not only helps to improve the function of the knee that is painful now, but also helps to diminish risk of developing pain on the other knee as well.  Our goals are to get you moving and functioning well, and to empower you to keep yourself functioning well throughout life.

 The full text of this article can be accessed for free using the following link to BioMedCentral.


Back to News