Osteoarthritis pain ‘determines depressed mood’
Osteoarthritis pain is associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms, as a result of its effect on fatigue and disability, new research shows.
Scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada studied 529 people, all of whom had osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
Participants agreed to be interviewed by telephone about their levels of pain and disability, fatigue and symptoms of depression on three separate occasions over a two-year period.
On average, patients were 75.4 years of age; nearly four-fifths were women; and two-fifths lived on their own.
The researchers found that levels of osteoarthritis pain were significantly associated with future fatigue and disability.
In turn, fatigue and disability were associated with future depressive symptoms; and depression was found to exacerbate fatigue and vice versa.
Meanwhile, fatigue and disability were both found to be linked with worsening levels of pain.
Publishing their findings in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study authors concluded that, once other factors had been taken into account, osteoarthritis pain “determined subsequent depressed mood through its effect on fatigue and disability”, and that these effects led to worsening of pain and disability over time.
“These results support the need for improved pain management in osteoarthritis to prevent or attenuate the downstream effects of pain on disability and mood,” they added.
A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said that depression and fatigue were associated with chronic pain. “It’s very important for people with osteoarthritis to keep as mobile and active as they can to keep the muscles that support the joints strong; otherwise there is a worry that they will become less and less mobile and sink into a spiral of fatigue and depression,” she said.
Arthritis Research UK is funding extensive research into finding better ways of treating and managing chronic arthritic pain. It launched a national pain centre at Nottingham University last year.
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