How is joint pain related to depression?

Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
A recent Korean study looked at 660 patients and found that there is a clear association between level of knee pain and increased incidence of depression. It seems that in people with low levels of degeneration and arthritic changes, if their pain levels were expectedly higher, they were more likely to also be depressed.

Given that neuroimmune research has shown patients with depression to have higher levels of inflammation in their body that can inflame the brain, it makes sense that those with joint pain will also suffer higher levels of pain, due to increased prostaglandins and inflammatory cytokines (immune system molecules) that increase our perception of pain.

Arthritis is already known to be more prevalent in patients with depression. This study is interesting, for it teaches doctors that it may be necessary to look more carefully at a patient who seems to have joint pain that is greater than the damage or trauma might suggest. As a natural medicine practitioner, it also reminds me that natural treatments that work on inflammation (usually aimed at calming an inflamed digestive tract creating an anti-inflammatory diet) can help both knee pain and depression. Acupuncture is also wonderful to address both symptoms while working on the underlying causes of joint pain and low mood.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.