Defining knee pain trajectories in early symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in primary care: 5-year results from a nationwide prospective cohort study (CHECK)

Alex N. Bastick*, Janet Wesseling, Jurgen Damen, Saskia P. J. Verkleij, Pieter J. Emans, Patrick J. E. Bindels, Sita M. A. Bierma-Zeinstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background GPs have high consultation rates for symptoms related to knee osteoarthritis (OA). Many risk factors for symptomatic knee OA progression remain unknown. Aim To define distinct knee pain trajectories in individuals with early symptomatic knee OA and determine the risk factors for these pain trajectories. Design and setting Data were obtained from the multicentre prospective Cohort Hip and Cohort Knee study in the Netherlands. Participants with knee OA, according to the clinical criteria of the American College of Rheumatology, and a completed 5-year follow-up were included. Method Baseline demographic, anamnestic, and physical examination characteristics were assessed. Outcome was annually assessed by the Numeric Rating Scale for pain. Pain trajectories were retrieved by latent class growth analysis. Multinomial logistic regression was used to calculate relative risk ratios. Results In total, 705 participants were included. Six distinct pain trajectories were identified with favourable and unfavourable courses. Statistically significant differences were found in baseline characteristics, including body mass index (BMI), symptom severity, and pain coping strategies between the different trajectories. Higher BMI, lower level of education, greater comorbidity, higher activity limitation scores, and joint space tenderness were more often associated with trajectories characterised by more pain at first presentation and pain progression - compared with the reference group with a mild pain trajectory. No association was found for baseline radiographic features. Conclusion These results can help differentiate those patients who require more specific monitoring in the management of early symptomatic knee OA from those for whom a 'wait-and-see' policy seems justifiable. Radiography provided no additional benefit over clinical diagnosis of early symptomatic knee OA in general practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E32-E39
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number642
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • disease progression
  • knee osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • pain trajectories
  • primary health care

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