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Joint Pain + Insomnia + Depression = Doctor’s Appointment


Aug. 28, 2018 Everyday Health

Pain was the main factor for people with osteoarthritis (OA) who sought medical care, according to a study published online in Arthritis Care & Research last week. In addition to pain, insomnia and depression also drove people living with osteoarthritis to visit a doctor.

In the study, which consisted of 2,976 people, half the participants presented with at least one of three symptoms: pain, insomnia, and depression. Approximately 34 percent of the patients studied experienced insomnia, while 29 percent had depression, in addition to moderate to severe pain.

The Osteoarthritis, Insomnia, and Depression Connection

“Our study showed that among patients with osteoarthritis, about 47 percent of them reported moderate to severe pain, 17 percent clinical insomnia, and 21 percent clinical depression,” says Minhui Liu, PhD, RN, a research fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore and the lead author of the study. “Moreover, about 13 percent of them had concurrent moderate to severe pain and clinical insomnia, and 13 percent presented concurrent moderate to severe pain and clinical depression.”

There Is a Pain, Sleep, and Mood Link, but Not Necessarily a Synergistic One

According to Dr. Liu, parts of the research revealed surprising results. “From previous research, we know that OA pain, insomnia and depression interact with each other, and that one symptom may exacerbate the other,” says Liu. “Given these complex interactions, we expected that some synergistic effects of these symptoms on healthcare use might exist in patients with OA. Our study did not detect such synergistic effects, which was surprising, but it is good from the patient’s perspective.”

Osteoarthritis Is a Common Problem for Adults

Osteoarthritis is considered the most common joint disorder in the United States, but the prevalence of the condition varies slightly from one study to the next. According to research published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, nearly 27 million adults in the United States have clinical osteoarthritis. More recently, a study published in August 2015 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research estimated that as many as 30.8 million U.S. adults (13.4 percent of the adult population) had osteoarthritis between 2008 and 2011.

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