Greater pain sensitivity found to increase risk of developing permanent knee pain

persistent knee pain

 There’s very little in life worse than constant, nagging pain in a certain part of your body, and if you’re not aware of that yet, consider yourself very lucky, because it can impact upon your entire lifestyle. And if the part of your body that’s affected happens to be your knee, you already know the obstacle it presents during your day-to-day routine.

We know the role that pain plays in body mechanics, and how it acts as a vital signifier that something has gone amiss. And while many people react to pain by getting themselves checked out and seen to at the earliest opportunity, others will either ‘tough it out’ and try to work through the pain, or shy away completely from the risk of aggravating it. And according to a recent study, compiled by researchers in Montreal and Boston, the latter group are jacking up the risk of their condition becoming permanent.

The study, which was conducted by study teams from Université de Montréal, the Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital Research Centre (CRHMR), and Boston University, analysed the data of 852 adults aged between 50 and 79 who were diagnosed with or at risk of contracting knee OA, but who weren’t suffering from persistent knee pain at the beginning of the study.


Tolerance to pain essential for avoiding knee arthritis

The research teams scoured each subject’s sociodemographic data and pain sensitization measurements, as well as looking for risk factors traditionally associated with knee pain such as psychological factors, widespread pain and poor sleep. They were then monitored for the development of persistent knee pain over the course of two years.

After crunching the data, the research teams managed to place members of the study group into four distinct subgroups which they called ‘pain susceptibility phenotypes’ – in other words, graded by their varying degrees of pain sensitisation, and discovered that those with the highest degree of sensitisation had the highest risk of developing persistent knee pain.

Out of those in the high-risk group, the biggest sociodemographic predictors were females, non-Caucasians and people aged over 65.

The researchers believe identifying these pain susceptibility phenotypes could be a very important development in understanding the complex pathology of knee OA – and that helping potential kn
Bristol: ee OA sufferers to build up their tolerance to pain or help them avoid pain altogether is crucial in improving their quality of life.

How can a low tolerance to persistent knee pain aggravate and even accelerate the onset of OA?

It’s simple: the instinctive response to knee pain is to not do anything to bring it on, which leads to a sedentary lifestyle – which can lead to an increased risk of developing factors that bring on OA, such as obesity and underuse of the joint mechanism. Medication can help to a certain extent – but both doctor and patient need to be aware of the risk of relying on painkillers to get through the day.

A more prudent approach may be to work out and adhere to an exercise programme geared towards safely and effectively strengthening the muscles around the knee.