Researchers used data obtained from participants in the Women's Health and Aging Study II (WHAS II) to determine whether patients with osteoarthritis in their lower extremities were more prone to developing mobility limitations. They also looked at whether limitations in mobility tended to develop before difficulty in activities of daily living. Their analysis included 199 women aged between 70 and 79 with lower extremity osteoarthritis who had no difficulty with mobility tasks at the beginning of the study and 140 women without osteoarthritis in the knee or hip. Patients were evaluated as to their osteoarthritis status, the presence of pain, knee strength, knee torque, and their level of mobility 18, 36 and 72 months following the initial evaluation.

The results showed that even though more women with osteoarthritis reported using arthritis medications, a greater proportion reported having pain most days and greater pain severity while walking and climbing stairs compared to women with no OA. In addition, 26% of the women with osteoarthritis were obese compared to 11% of the women without the disease, and an additional 40% were overweight. The two groups were similar, however, with regard to knee strength and torque. Overall, women with osteoarthritis were about 2.5 times more likely to develop difficulty in both lower extremity mobility and activities of daily living.

The current study demonstrates that lower extremity osteoarthritis is associated with painful symptoms, excess weight and obesity and that women with painful osteoarthritis are more likely to develop lower extremity limitations combined with limitations on their daily activities. The fact that this is affected by higher body mass is what lends novelty to the current study, according to the authors.; Source: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.