Five-year prognosis and impact of adolescent knee pain: a prospective population-based cohort study of 504 adolescents in Denmark Academic Article uri icon


  • ObjectivesInvestigate the prognosis of adolescent knee pain, and evaluate its impact on health, care-seeking and career choices 5 years later.DesignPre-registered, prospective cohort study.SettingPopulation-based cohort initiated in school setting.ParticipantsFrom a cohort of 2200 adolescents aged 15–19 years in 2011, 504 reported knee pain on at least a monthly basis, and were followed prospectively in this cohort study, together with 252 controls who did not have knee pain in 2011.Main outcome measuresOutcomes included the Pain and Symptoms subscales from the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), pain intensity measured with a Numeric Rating Scale, pain frequency, knee-related and health-related quality of life, sports participation, physical activity level, KOOS subscales: Function and Sport/recreation, quality of sleep, healthcare consultations, treatments received for their knee pain, the use of painkillers and impact on choice of job or career.ResultsAt follow-up, 358 (71.0%) from the knee pain group and 182 (72.2%) from the control group responded. Of note, 40.5% (95% CI: 35.4% to 45.6%) from the knee pain group reported knee pain 5 years later which was frequent and intense compared with 13.2% (95% CI: 8.2 to 18.1) of the control group. Those from the knee pain group still suffering from knee pain reported poorer physical health (13 points worse on KOOS Function and 30 points worse on KOOS Sport/recreation), stopped or reduced their sports participation because of knee pain (60%), reported worse sleep quality and worse knee-related and general quality of life. In terms of health behaviours, those still with knee pain reported more healthcare consultations. One-third used pain killers regularly, and 15% (95% CI: 12% to 20%) reported that knee pain influenced their choice of job or career.ConclusionFour out of every 10 adolescents with knee pain still experienced frequent and intense knee pain 5 years later, severe enough to impact health, health behaviours and career choices.Trail registration numberNCT02873143.


  • Rathleff, Michael Skovdal
  • Holden, Sinead
  • Straszek, Christian Lund
  • Olesen, Jens Lykkegaard
  • Jensen, Martin Bach
  • Roos, Ewa M

publication date

  • 2019