For the first time, a study undertaken by scientists of  Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU) shows the high prevalence of knee osteoarthritis in the Vietnamese population. According to the study, a third of Vietnamese men and women over the age of 40 are affected by osteoarthritis of the knee. Squatting was a risk factor for osteoarthritis. The study was published in the international journal PLoS ONE now online: “Prevalence of Radiographic Osteoarthritis of the Knee and Its Relationship to Self-Reported Pain”.


Osteoarthritis, previously known as degenerative joint disease, is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage on the end of bones where they meet and form a joint. Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, the most common sites are the hands, knees, hip, and spine. Patients with osteoarthritis suffer from chronic pain, reduced movement and quality of life. Despite the problem, the magnitude of osteoarthritis in Vietnam has never been studied.


Scientists from the TDTU’s Bone and Muscle Research Group decided to undertake a study to assess the prevalence of osteoarthritis of the knees. They studied X-ray films from 650 men and women aged 40 years and above. The participants were randomly selected from Ho Chi Minh City. The researchers found that 34% of men and women had osteoarthritis of the knees. Among those aged 60 years and older, 60% of them were affected by knee osteoarthritis. Given the present population, the researchers estimate that approximately 3.8 million Vietnamese individuals are affected by knee osteoarthritis. This number is projected to increase as the Vietnamese population is rapidly aging.


The estimates of prevalence of knee osteoarthritis are comparable to estimates from China and Western populations.


However, the study by TDTU researchers further pointed out two risk factors for knee osteoarthritis relevant to Asian populations. The first risk factor is overweight, and the second factor is pain when squatting. Squatting is a very common habit of Asian people, including Vietnamese people. In this study, about 40% of women and 10% men complained that they had experienced pain when squatting, among people are associated with a 41% increased risk of knee osteoarthritis.


Speaking about their study, the researchers said that “although we can’t avoid getting older, we can make an effort to maintain a healthy body weight, and to strengthen leg muscles with exercise. Both will help put less strain on the knee joints, and keep us mobile longer. If people feel pain when squatting, they should see a doctor for consultation.”