Knee Arthritis worsens as a result of Depression: Report

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A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery declares that being clinically depressed can actually worsen the symptoms beyond what is shown to be the reality on X-rays, with regards to knee arthritis.

The study also shows how those who have the arthritis condition are more prone to depression. A common cause of impairment in older adults, the fact that depression makes the pain worse than it appears in X-rays makes it increasingly difficult for medical professionals to treat.

Doctors are finding that even when the X-rays show that there should be little pain the patient who is depressed complains of heightened pain, it really shows a marked difference in how the mind of a depressed person works, in particular how they experience pain itself. The variation in pain analysis has found to be most evident with regard to knee arthritis.

The X-rays may indicate that there is not severe damage, yet the patient may be experiencing very real pain that would be synonymous with severe damage. Dr Kim who was involved in the study of this phenomenon said, “The relationship between pain and depression suggests that both should be considered by physicians when treating patients with knee osteoarthritis, particularly in those with X-rays not indicating severe damage to the joint.”

Dr Kim’s study took in a sample of over 600 patients in their advanced years. Their pain was evaluated based on the severity of their arthritis on X-ray and according to the pain symptoms the patient experienced. By means of face to face interviews and by using questionnaires they were able to correlate whether depression was indicative of advanced pain symptoms. The study took place as a section of the Korean Longitudinal Study on Health and Aging (KLoSHA).

The results were as expected, based on the severity of the condition as shown up by X-ray. There was a more severe pain yet the correlation of depression with even slight arthritic damage was disproportionate. Dr Kim noted that, “When evaluating the results of this study, the contribution of depression to knee osteoarthritis symptoms was almost as important as the damage indicated on X-rays.”

It was noted by the research a possible reason for the correlation; The risk of depression is heightened when an individual loses part of their mobility, it may have been that many of the individuals did not have depression before the arthritis brought about the pain and the lack of mobility, the depression in turn increases the pain they were experiencing.

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