'Germs are loiterers. They can live and thrive on all kinds of surfaces, including - and especially - desks in the workplace.'

London - More than a quarter of workers have painful knee joints, it has been revealed in a British poll.

Surgeons and physiotherapists say that rising levels of obesity and desk-based jobs across all age groups are to blame.

Those over the age of 55 suffer most, with one in 10 questioned saying they are in constant pain.

Almost a quarter of 1 600 workers, aged between 16 and 65, in the survey said they had been living with pain for up to two years.

Sammy Margo, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the rise of the internet and desk-based jobs were to blame for the phenomenon of “office knee”.

She said: “I have seen a huge surge in the number of people with knee pain and it is down to the sedentary lifestyle people are leading now.

“It is very much people with desk-based jobs, and some of them have been working for 10 to 20 years in these roles. I have been a physiotherapist for the past 25 years and in that time we have had the advent of the internet, which has been very much a factor.”

Orthopaedic surgeon Ronan Banim said surgeons were seeing knees that were “literally being crushed” by excess weight.

“This puts pressure on joints and can increase the long-term risk of osteoarthritis.

“Weight control, regular, careful, exercise and healthy eating are extremely important.

“Although knee pain may not be life-threatening, if left untreated it can seriously impact on quality of life.

“Patients should seek early treatment and, where necessary, consider losing just a small amount of weight as this could rule out the need for future surgery.”

But before you lace up your trainers and hit the road running, surgeons have also issued a warning against sudden exercise.

Banim said: “It is important that ageing joints are not overused and preparation and rest before and after exercise are vital.”

Dr Sarah Dauncey added: “To minimise the potential risks of getting knee pain, people who are becoming more active should look at pre- and post-activity warm-ups and downs, wearing good trainers and supporting the joint when exercising.” – Daily Mail