Treating Depression Can Improve Arthritic Symptoms

New findings show that patients who suffered with depression reported more severe arthritic knee pain than those without depressive symptoms. 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 said, “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.”

Dr. Kim also noted that the symptoms of depression that contributed to the arthritic symptoms were just as relative and important as the actual damage that could be seen on an X-ray. “Despite the reported satisfactory outcomes of knee replacement surgery a percentage of patients still experience knee pain and impaired movement,” said Dr. Kim. “Sometimes pain and disability after surgery is medically unexplained, so in these patients screening for depression might be a very good option.”

The study was conducted on 660 men and women over the age of 65. Each was evaluated based on the level of pain symptoms and severity of arthritis that appeared on their X-ray. In addition, each client was interviewed to determine any coinciding depressive disorders. The overall conclusions show how proper treatment for mental illnesses directly impact overall physical health.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

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

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  • TH

    TH

    March 21st, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Mental and physical health converge at some point and there is no denying that.It is for us to know that the two will never be independent of each other and that we should actually try and use this to our advantage..Wouldn’t it be nice if there is a laughter therapy or positive thinkin that could help us heal our physical health quicker? That would be great I feel :)

  • bonnie

    bonnie

    March 23rd, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    I have a friend diagnosed with RA and her life is literally spinning out of control. I know that she feels like she can’t enjoy the things in life that she used to, that they are too much out of her grasp for her to be able to take advantage of. And the drug cocktails that the doctors are trying are making her feel even worse. I am so glad that I saw this so maybe I can suggest the use of therapy as well. Maybe then she can get help for the depression that has become a secondary symptom of the RA and that will then help to get the physical illness under control too. Can’t hurt.

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