OBJECTIVES To establish the risk of falling among those who consult their general practitioner with a new episode of hip pain and to discover if risk is altered by age and according to whether, at presentation, signs of osteoarthritis are present on radiography.
METHODS A case-control study was conducted. Cases were all patients who presented with a new episode of hip pain to participating general practices throughout the United Kingdom. All cases had a pelvic radiograph taken on recruitment to the study. Three controls were matched for sex, age, and general practice to each case. A questionnaire was sent by post to all cases and controls. The risk of having fallen in the past 12 months among cases and controls was compared.
RESULTS The study included 111 cases presenting with hip pain and 229 controls who had not consulted with hip pain in the previous 12 months. Women (odds ratio = 3.6, 95% CI 1.9, 6.7) but not men (odds ratio = 0.8, 95% CI 0.3, 2.3) reported an increased risk of falling in the previous 12 months. Similar results were obtained when the previous four months were considered. For all cases, hip pain predated any reported falls. The increased risk in women was found particularly for those aged less than 70. Risk of falling was not altered by the presence of radiological changes of osteoarthritis.
CONCLUSIONS Hip pain, which may be a symptom of osteoarthritis of the hip, increases the risk of falling. This finding has implications for the advice offered by general practitioners to patients who consult with early hip pain.
- hip osteoarthritis
- general practice
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