Knee Pain Can Cause Symptoms of Depression
A study of over 500 people aged 65 or over in Japan has found that people who have knee osteoarthritis are more likely to suffer from depression.
Symptoms of depression can in turn lead to worse pain for these people, and make it more difficult for them to carry out their daily activities.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage on the ends of the bones breaks down. This causes pain and swelling, and bony growths can develop and become inflamed. It becomes difficult to move the joints that are affected. The knees are a common area of the body to be affected by osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition and there is currently no cure. It can get worse over time and can have a significant impact on a person’s mobility and quality of life. Symptoms can sometimes be managed by doing regular exercise, wearing suitable footwear or taking painkillers.
Link to depression
A team of researchers in Japan have examined how knee pain impacts people’s mental health, and in particular whether there is any link with depression.
They analysed information about 573 people aged 65 or older. At the start of the study, none of the people had symptoms of depression.
Two years later, the people were asked questions about knee pain and were evaluated for signs of depression.
Almost 12 per cent of the participants developed symptoms of depression. Pain and functional impairment were found to be associated with these symptoms.
Pain at night while in bed, difficulty putting on and taking off socks, and difficulty getting in and out of a car, were found to be the most strongly associated with depression.
The results of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Identifying those at risk
The researchers concluded that looking at older people’s responses to questions about pain at night and difficulties with doing daily activities could be an effective way of identifying those who are at a high risk of developing depression.
The research provides some evidence to show that knee pain from osteoarthritis can make it harder to do daily activities, which can reduce quality of life, and therefore can lead to depression.
Suffering from depression can in turn make knee pain symptoms worse, as people are less inclined to exercise. The authors of this research say that this can create a ‘vicious cycle’ among older people.
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