Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mental Health and Arthritis Symptoms

From time to time, I'll reflect a bit on articles published in the peer reviewed orthopaedic literature that relate to shoulder arthritis.

The most recent Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery contains an article on the association between depression and osteoarthritis symptoms. While the study concerns patients with arthritis of the knee, it is likely that it is just as relevant to individuals with arthritis of the shoulder. The authors reported that for individuals with mild to moderate arthritis of the knee (as judged from their x-rays), knee pain, stiffness and disability were greater when the person had evidence of depression. There was no such correlation when the arthritis of the knee seen on x-ray was severe.

This publication is consistent with our findings published over a decade ago on the effect of co-morbidities, such as depression, on shoulder function.

The 'take away' message is that if an individual has severe joint symptoms in the absence of severe x-ray changes, it may be advisable to consider an evaluation for depression before proceeding to a surgery for arthritis.


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