People whose legs are of uneven lengths are at increased odds for knee and hip osteoarthritis, new research suggests. The study concluded that a difference of as little as two centimeters (about % of an inch) could raise the risk for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage.

The Study

Researchers studied 3,161 people and found that 6.4% of them had legs of different lengths. Compared with people with legs of equal length, those with leg length differences of two centimeters or more were more likely to develop hip osteoarthritis (32.5% vs. 26.1%) and knee osteoarthritis (45.3% vs. 29%) and were more likely to have severe disease, the study found.

The actual location of osteoarthritis did not seem to be associated with either the longer or shorter limb, although right hip osteoarthritis was more common in people whose left leg was longer than in those with a longer right leg.


"Recognizing that leg length inequality has a significant association with hip and particularly knee osteoarthritis opens the door to more studies on whether leg length variances might cause the development and progression of the disease," said senior investigator Dr. Joanne M. Jordan, associate professor of medicine and orthopedics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"The findings from this study may help us predict who may develop osteoarthritis and who may have symptoms that worsen or have a potential risk of increased disability. Studies to test whether correction of leg length inequality with an orthotic or shoe lift can prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, or its progression, would be a logical next step," Jordan said.

Vitamin K Cuts Arthritis Risk

In a new study of 672 adults, those who had the highest vitamin K levels were less likely to have osteoarthritis of the hands and knees than people who had the lowest levels.

Theory: Insufficient vitamin K could affect proteins that build and maintain bone and cartilage.

Self-defense: Get the recommended daily intake of vitamin K-65 micrograms (mcg) for women and 80 mcg for men.

Good sources: Spinach, broccoli and olive oil.

Caution: If you take a blood thinner, vitamin K can reduce the drug's effectiveness.

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