Background: Noted levels of pain in patients with diagnosed osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee are commonly assessed by using a numeric scoring system. However, the results of pain levels in patients with knee OA may be influenced by factors other than the patient’s actual physical discomfort or disease severity, including demographic and psychosocial variables. We retrospectively examined 355 patients with knee OA who had reported associated pain levels using a 0- to 10-point rating scale.

Methods: Data obtained from the medical records of patients were Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade, demographic characteristics, body mass index (BMI), concomitant disorders, drug use, alcohol use, smoking, health insurance status, knee OA treatment, and knee-surgery recommendation. Univariate and multivariate analyses determined correlation with reported pain scores.

Results: KL grade showed no correlation with pain scores (P = 0.2). Younger age, ethnicity, and higher BMI were significantly associated with higher scores (P = 0.03, P < 0.001, and P < 0.001, respectively). Native American or Hispanic ethnicity remained significant on multivariate analysis (P < 0.001). All psychosocial factors and other categories showed correlation, excluding diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (P = 0.2); current opioid prescription and depression retained significance with higher pain scores (P < 0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively).

Conclusions: To provide more effective care, clinicians should be aware that demographic and psychosocial factors may be important determinants of pain levels reported by patients.

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