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BACKGROUND: Significant correlation has been previously demonstrated between radiographic and clinical diagnoses of knee osteoarthritis (OA); however, the specific findings on clinical examination that relate best to a radiographic diagnosis have not been fully elicited. AIMS: We aimed to explore the relationship between clinical symptoms and physical findings with radiographic diagnoses of tibiofemoral and patellofemoral OA. METHODS: This study was based on 409 individuals from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study, born between 1931 and 1939. Antero-posterior and lateral radiographs were taken of both knees. The presence of tibiofemoral and patellofemoral OA was defined according to the Kellgren and Lawrence score. Clinical symptoms, assessed using WOMAC, and physical findings were ascertained by examination. Relationships were assessed using multilevel univariate logistic regression. RESULTS: In the 775 knees studied, the prevalence of physical findings was crepitus (25%), tibiofemoral tenderness (15%), bony swelling (12%), and pain on flexion (10%). Thirty-one percent (n = 238) knees demonstrated tibiofemoral OA, 28% (n = 220) showed patellofemoral OA, and 16% demonstrated OA in both locations. A global clinical symptom score was associated with increased risk of tibiofemoral OA (OR 12.5, 95% CI 5.4-29.0) and patellofemoral OA (OR 5.1, 95% CI 2.3-13.1). On clinical examination, the presence of crepitus, tibiofemoral tenderness, bony swelling, and pain on flexion was associated with increased risk of tibiofemoral OA; however, only tenderness was found to be associated with patellofemoral OA. CONCLUSION: Global clinical symptom score was associated with radiographic tibiofemoral and patellofemoral OA. However, individual clinical signs were more strongly associated with tibiofemoral than patellofemoral OA.

Original publication




Journal article


Aging clin exp res

Publication Date





17 - 25


Epidemiology, Osteoarthritis, Patellofemoral, Radiography, Tibiofemoral, Aged, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Knee Joint, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Pain, Physical Examination, Prevalence, Radiography, Range of Motion, Articular