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University of Iowa News Release

June 14, 2004

Individuals Invited To Participate In UI Knee Research Study

Individuals between the ages 50 to 79 -- especially those who do not currently have knee pain -- are invited to participate in a University of Iowa College of Public Health study about knee health.

The purpose of MOST (Multicenter Knee Osteoarthritis Study) is to study how physical activities, weight and diet affect knee health. Participants will not be asked to take any medication or change their eating or exercise habits.

The study will involve three clinic visits in Iowa City over a two-and-a-half-year period. Testing will include knee and full leg x-rays, bone density measurements, MRI exams and a variety of physical measurements to assess knee strength and alignment. All tests and measurements are provided free of charge. Participants will receive results from the x-rays and bone density measurements.

"It may seem unusual that a knee research study would seek to enroll people without knee pain," said Kelly O'Berry, recruitment coordinator for the study. "We have a lot of interest in the study from people with knee pain, but our goal is to have 70 percent of the study participants currently without knee pain. Our emphasis is recruiting people who are at risk for knee osteoarthritis but do not have knee pain."

Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It is the most common cause of disability in adults, mostly due to arthritis of the knee. According to the Arthritis Foundation, signs of osteoarthritis can be seen on x-rays of most people who are over age 60. However, about two-thirds of these people do not have any pain and therefore do not know that they have the disease.

Being 10 or more pounds overweight is another risk factor for knee osteoarthritis.

"Studies show that being overweight increases the chances of developing knee osteoarthritis," according to Kenneth Saag, M.D., M.S., associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, MOST investigator and former faculty member at the UI. "People can have knee osteoarthritis and not know about it because they don't have knee pain."

Other risk factors include sustaining a knee injury at any time in the past and having had prior knee surgery. People who participate in high-impact competitive sports (or participated in them in the past), and people whose jobs include repetitive motions such as bending, squatting or lifting, are also more at risk to develop knee osteoarthritis. Researchers are particularly interested in studying men and women who currently farm or who have farmed in the past.

Age is another risk factor for knee osteoarthritis. Six percent of U.S. adults over age 30 have knee osteoarthritis, and approximately 30 percent of people ages 65 to 74 have the condition.

"As the baby boom population turns 50, we will see an increase in the incidence of knee osteoarthritis. We want to learn more about the causes of knee osteoarthritis to be able to focus on preventing the condition," said James Torner, Ph.D., UI professor and head of epidemiology and principal investigator of the study.

UI researchers plan to enroll 1,500 men and women in the study. Men, in particular, are invited to participate. Enrollment is expected to close in February 2005. For more information, call 319-384-5055 or toll free 800-348-4692.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu