Effects of Mild and Severe Knee Joint Pain on the Frequency of Falls and Fall Risk in Elderly Females
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This study aimed to examine differences in the frequency of falls during the past year and fall risk among 392 elderly females was categorized into five groups on the basis of the knee pain experienced: no knee pain, mild unilateral knee pain, mild bilateral knee pain, severe unilateral knee pain, and severe bilateral knee pain. The subjects participated in a fall risk survey comprising 50 items representing five risk factors: “symptoms of falling”, “disease and physical symptoms”, “environment”, “behavior and character”, and “physical function”. The frequency of falls during the past year, score for each risk factor, and the total fall risk score were not significantly different between the mild unilateral and mild bilateral knee pain groups, and between the severe unilateral and severe bilateral knee pain groups. Therefore, these groups were pooled to form a mild knee pain group and a severe knee pain group and analyzed. The severe knee pain group had experienced a significantly greater number of falls during the past year compared with the no knee pain group. Furthermore, the symptom of falling score was significantly higher in the severe knee pain group than in the no knee pain group, while the disease and physical symptoms score was significantly higher in the mild and severe knee pain groups than in the no knee pain group. The physical function score and total fall risk score were significantly higher in the following order: the severe knee pain group, the mild knee pain group, and the no knee pain group. Our results indicate that for elderly females who can achieve ADL independently, the degree of knee pain (mild or severe) has a marked effect on fall risk, irrespective of laterality of the pain (unilateral or bilateral). Factors such as symptoms of falling, disease and physical symptoms, and physical function are also related to fall risk in this population. Furthermore, elderly individuals with severe knee pain experience frequent falls.