The brain is a powerful piece of kit. We have only scratched the surface on understanding how it works but these two new pieces of research suggest that not only your mood but also how you relate to your affected joint will impact on the amount of degenerative joint pain your suffer.
The first piece was published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. It investigates the effect of depression on degenerative joint pain. It looked at the radiographic findings and graded the amount of OA the person had and then investigated whether people with depression had more or less pain than those who were not depressed with the same grade of OA.
Knee pain scores increased ability to identify participants with radiographic KL >= 2 in both sexes. However, the presence of depressive symptoms impairs the ability of knee pain complaints to identify patients with radiographic OA.
So Is Degenerative Joint Pain Is Made Worse With Depression?
The problem I have with this piece of research is that radiographic findings rarely correlate to the amount of pain suffered. I have seen X-rays of severe degeneration and the patient reports ‘discomfort’ while people with only very mild OA are severely hampered by their condition.
I think depression makes everything bad feel worse and everything good does not feel as good. That is after all what depression is. Degenerative joint pain is bad so it feels worse when you are depressed.
The other piece of research into how we relate to pain I find very interesting. It is being delivered at a seminar on how to grow old successfully. (Though how they define successfully who know!)
They have found:
“Research has shown that people with hand osteoarthritis who are asked to identify their own hand size (from images of their real hand that are made to look shorter and longer) will pick an image of a hand which is smaller than the size of hand that people without pain will choose. This seems unusual but is actually indicative of that altered sense of body perception.
“What is most interesting is that this altered perception may relate to pain. When we alter the visual appearance of the hand (i.e. – make it look stretched or shrunken) using visual illusions, pain decreases or sometimes disappears entirely in people with hand osteoarthritis.
“Our brains play a key role in how we experience pain and there are some exciting strategies which aim to target the brain that may assist us in relieving pain.”
This means there could be a whole new way to reduce degenerative joint disease by tricking our minds so reducing the need for drugs. This I find exciting.
I have always believed a positive mental attitude helps with the amount of degenerative joint pain you will suffer. Taking control of your condition rather than it controlling you is vital to your quality of life.
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