The Rising Incidence of Degenerative and Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis of the Knee in the United States Military

James E. Showery, Nicholas A. Kusnezov, John C. Dunn, Julia O. Bader, Philip J. Belmont, Brian R. Waterman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background This investigation sought to quantify incidence rates (IRs) and risk factors for primary and secondary (ie, posttraumatic) osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee in an active military population. Methods We performed a retrospective review of United States military active duty servicemembers with first-time diagnosis of primary (International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition code: 715.16) and secondary (International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition code: 715.26) OA of the knee between 2005 and 2014 using the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database. IRs and 95% CIs were expressed per 1000 person-years, with stratified subgroup analysis adjusted for sex, age, race, military rank, and branch of military service. Relative risk factors were evaluated using IR ratios and multiple regression analysis. Results A total of 21,318 cases of OA of the knee were identified among an at-risk population of 13,820,906 person-years for an overall IR of 1.54 per 1000 person-years, including 19,504 cases of primary (IR: 1.41) and 1814 cases of secondary OA (IR: 0.13). The IRs of both primary and secondary OA increased significantly from 2005 to 2014. Increasing age (P <.0001); black race (P <.001); senior military rank (P <.0001); and Army, Marines, and Air Force services (P <.0001) were significantly associated with an increased risk for knee OA. Conclusion This study is the first large-scale report of knee OA in a young athletic population. An increasing incidence and several risk factors for knee OA were identified, indicating a need for better preventative strategies and forecasting the increased anticipated demands for knee arthroplasty among US military servicemembers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2108-2114
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • arthritis
  • epidemiology
  • knee
  • military
  • post-traumatic


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