(HealthDay News) – Slower walking speed may be a marker for identifying those at risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Jama L. Purser, PT, PhD, of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and associates conducted home interviews and a clinic evaluation of 1,858 North Carolina residents, aged >45 years, to determine if slower walking speed signaled the risk of hip or knee osteoarthritis.

The researchers found there was a consistent association between fast walking speed and reduced incidence of radiographic and symptomatic knee OA (adjusted odds ratio, 0.88 and 0.84, respectively). Slower walking speed correlated with increased incidence of knee OA across a wide range of clinical and radiographic OA outcomes.

“Given the consistency of our findings across the different subsamples, walking speed may be a marker of knee joint health,” the authors write. “We recommend further research to confirm these findings and consideration of walking speed assessment during clinic visits as a means to help identify patients at greatest risk of developing OA, especially at the knee, and who may benefit from pharmaceutical and/or preventive interventions.”

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