Prevalence and healthcare usage of knee pain in South Australia: a population-based study

Charlotte Blacketer, Tiffany Gill, Anne Taylor, Catherine Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is known that South Australia (SA) has the highest rate of knee arthroscopy use of any state in Australia; however, Level 1 evidence demonstrates that knee arthroscopy in patients with uncomplicated knee osteoarthritis confers no benefit. In SA, which patients are presenting with knee pain and what treatments are they receiving?. Aims: To determine the prevalence, persistence and treatment modalities of knee pain in SA. Methods: This study analysed data from the North-West Adelaide Health Study (1999–2015), a longitudinal, population-based cohort study of people aged 18 years and over (n = 4060), initially randomly selected from the north-west region of Adelaide, SA. It incorporated clinic assessments, self-completed questionnaires and telephone interviews to collect demographic, anthropometric and biochemical data over four main stages (1, 2, 3 and North-West 15 (NW15)). Data were linked to Medical Benefits Scheme data. Results: In stages 3 and NW15 of the North-West Adelaide Health Study, 30–35% of participants reported knee pain (n = 803, 452). Demographic variables associated with knee pain included older age and lower educational level, while risk factors included obesity and high waist circumference. In the 12 months preceding NW15, 33% of participants with knee pain/stiffness consulted a general practitioner for their knee pain, 10.2% an orthopaedic surgeon, and 12.6% a physiotherapist. Between 2011 and 2015, 3.0% the cohort underwent a knee arthroscopy, and 3.1% underwent knee magnetic resonance imaging. Conclusions: Knee pain affects large proportions of the SA population. Knee pain was persistent with underuse of non-pharmacological treatments and high use of specialist referral. These data support the need for a national strategy to manage osteoarthritis effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1110
Number of pages6
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • arthroscopy
  • knee osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • knee stiffness
  • osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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