According to a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, patients who struggle with clinical depression may be more prone to mild to moderate knee arthritis.
"Knee osteoarthritis is a common cause of pain and impairment in older adults," said Tae Kyun Kim, MD, study author and director of the Division of Knee Surgery and Sports Medicine at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital's Joint Reconstruction Center. "Often, the level of arthritic symptoms reported by patients is much more severe than what is represented by X-rays, which can make it difficult for the doctor to treat.
"The results of this study indicate that depression can play a major role in the way patients experience the symptoms of knee arthritis, and that even when X-rays show the arthritis is not severe, patients with depression may report significant pain," Dr. Kim 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."
In order to come to their conclusions, researchers utilized 660 men and women who were 65 years old or older. To determine the severity of the subjects’ knee arthritis, x-rays were taken and symptoms were analyzed.
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When all was said and done, it was determined that the levels of pain associated with arthritis were higher in patients whose X-rays showed a greater amount of damage.
"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," Dr. Kim noted.
"Despite the reported satisfactory outcomes of knee replacement surgery a percentage of patients still experience knee pain and impaired movement," said Dr. Kim said. "Sometimes pain and disability after surgery is medically unexplained, so in these patients screening for depression might be a very good option."
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