The objective of this study was to describe trajectories of functional decline over 84 months and study associated risk factors among adults initially without limitation who had or were at risk of knee OA. The authors used annual measures of WOMAC physical function over 84 months from the OA Initiative. We included knees with no functional limitation (i.e. WOMAC = 0) at baseline. Knee-based trajectories of functional decline from WOMAC were identified from a group-based trajectory model (PROC TRAJ). The team identified five trajectories from 2110 knees (1055 participants, age 61.0 ± 9.3, BMI 27.1 ± 4.4, 52% women). Half of the knees (54%) remained free of limitation over 84 months, 26% slowly declined to a WOMAC of 1.5, 9% were limitation free for the first 36 months and declined to a WOMAC of 11.3, 6% rapidly declined over the first 12 months and gradually recovered to a WOMAC of 3.3 and 5% steadily declined to a WOMAC of 13.2. Baseline radiographic disease, knee pain, obesity and depressive symptoms at baseline were associated with trajectories of worse functional decline.
Five per cent of our sample initially without limitation was on a trajectory of progressive functional decline over 84 months later. They found worse disease and health status at baseline to be associated with faster decline over time.