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2004 Edition

New Research:
Torn Meniscus Increases Risk of Knee OA

Previous studies have shown that people who tear meniscal cartilage in the knee and have the entire piece of cartilage removed are at increased risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA). Now, a study finds that even people who have limited meniscectomy—removal of only the damaged cartilage—are more likely to develop OA than people without knee trauma.

Researchers assessed the symptoms and x-rayed both knees of 155 people (average age 54) who had a meniscectomy an average of 16 years earlier and of 68 age-matched controls without knee trauma. OA was present in 43% of the operated knees and 29% of the opposite knees in the meniscectomy group, and in 9% of knees in the control group. The researchers speculate that people who injure one knee may alter their gait and thus increase the risk of OA in the other knee, or that the same factors that caused the tear in one knee may also contribute to OA in the other knee.

People who had a traumatic meniscal tear were nearly three times more likely than those in the control group to have OA, and people with a degenerative tear (usually older adults) were seven times more likely. The researchers suggest that “a degenerative meniscal tear may be the first signal announcing a more widespread osteoarthritic disease in the knee joint.”

Arthritis and Rheumatism
Volume 48, page 2178
August 2003



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The arthritis White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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