Childhood Abuse Might Impact Osteoarthritis Later in Life

There are numerous effects on both physical and emotional health linked to occurrences of childhood abuse. From psychological trauma and stress to physical symptoms that can be quite complex, children often experience difficulties arising from abuse that can have an impact on their quality of life long after the incident or incidents take place. Sometimes, such difficulties can arise much later in life, though the precise connections between the abuse events and the manifestation of symptoms may not be precisely clear. Recently, such a relationship was found between childhood abuse and osteoarthritis by a study performed at the University of Toronto. Though the researchers have been unable to describe a clear path of causation between child abuse and osteoarthritis, their gathered information shows that abused children are 56% more likely to develop osteoarthritis later in life than those who were not abused.

The study’s participants self-reported on whether they had experienced abuse as a child, and controls were put in place to account for possible arthritis-related factors, including obesity and rates of physical activity. Osteoarthritis, which affects scores of people in the United States and around the world and can create significant difficulties with basic, everyday functioning, was present in one of the groups studied, while it was absent in the control group. The researchers found that those with osteoarthritis had a 10.2% rate of self-reports of abuse during childhood, compared to a rate of only 6.5% among those without osteoarthritis.

Adding further evidence to the importance of preventing childhood abuse, the study may help those in the mental and medical health professions better understand and serve their clients.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Cook


    November 11th, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    Suffering abuse during childhood is just too much for a young mind to take… the child undergoes a tremendous amount of mental trauma and disturbance… and psychological problems are very likely to arise in such a person, and as seen by past studies, psychological problems can lead to bigger mental health problems and sometimes even physical health problems… its like a chain of events, all negative, arising from being abused.

  • John Lee LMHC

    John Lee LMHC

    November 11th, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    I was just at a conferance where this topic was discussed. There is a significant relationship between PTSD and Chronic Pain. The hyper arrousal and the hyper vigilence states of being if untreated puts a heavy toll on the body! This is why it is so important to reach out for help and learn meditation, self hypnosis coremindfullness techniques and pratice them on a daily basis.



    November 11th, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    This is a matter of real concern… health conditions need the victim to be emotionally and mentally strong, and this is very hard for a person who has been through abuse during his/her childhood. This means that such a person will have lesser chances of surviving such a condition.

  • Samuel


    November 11th, 2009 at 6:36 PM

    Yet another example that the damage done by childhood abuse can go on and on and on, far beyond those young years. We need to be far more vigilant to protect children and to encourage victims to get help, regardless of their age.

  • Paige


    November 11th, 2009 at 7:07 PM

    It’s horrible that kids continue to suffer in later life because of the actions of twisted individuals. It wasn’t their fault and yet they keep paying the price. Why would it present itself in this manner? The mind-body relationship remains mysterious.

  • Lacey


    November 11th, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    I wonder if early intervention in coming to terms with the trauma of childhood abuse makes a difference. Would therapy have prevented such a significant incidence of osteoarthritis being reported in the future? It doesn’t clarify whether any of them had been counseled in the past.

  • Teach


    November 11th, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    Observing these findings from another angle: the presence of osteoarthritis may also provide a clue to doctors or therapists of possible child abuse that hasn’t been revealed to them yet by the patient. Every little piece of the puzzle helps them make as accurate a diagnosis as possible and decide which path to tread. That’s an interesting study.

  • francis


    November 12th, 2009 at 2:48 AM

    The relationship between mind and body is a very deep one, and any incident with one is bound to have a major effect on the other too… the effects need not be a direct one but the repercussions will be felt sooner than later.

  • John Lee LMHC

    John Lee LMHC

    November 13th, 2009 at 5:56 PM

    Have to be careful not to imply abuse when assessing someone.
    False memories are easy to create! Yes! I beleive back in 1965 when I was attacked if I would have received appropriate care I would not suffered from the PTSD symptoms and later had to deal with chronic pain. There does need to be a push on educating people that it is OK to get help for hyper startle response and the hyper arrousal that is common in cases of adults who have been abused as children.

    Break through the fear and get the help you need!

  • pain


    September 29th, 2011 at 4:10 AM

    Predators can have psychological impact in later life. But arthritis? Isn’t this a little far-fetched? But I hate such people really, irrespective of what impact they have on the kids.

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