Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, deformity and affects the mobility and quality of life of those who suffer from it. There are 242 million people in the world who have osteoarthritis, 7 million in Spain, where it is the main cause of disability.
A study, presented by the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN) at the Annual Congress of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) in 2015, indicates that one in four osteoarthritis patients suffer from episodes of anxiety or depression. According to Dr. Ingrid Möller, a rheumatologist collaborating with OAFI (Osteoarthritis Foundation International) and director of the POAL Institute of Rheumatology, the pain, limitations and deformity that osteoarthritis can cause are the causes that explain this relationship.
Cause-effect relationship between osteoarthritis and depression
“For osteoarthritis patients, pain is a past, present and future experience that affects their relationship with their family, at work … And when added to the deformity, especially in hands and/or knees, it can lead, especially for those affected, to depressive moods “
“For professionals,” continues Möller, “it can be difficult to address these issues beyond offering the sufferer analgesics, anti-inflammatories or antidepressants. But it is easy for the patient to resort to any paramedical alternative that is sometimes costly, without scientific evidence to support it, and with uncertain results that contribute to increase the patient’s discouragement. “
An informed joint health patient who shares his or her experiences and information with other patients could be a tool to improve the quality of life of osteoarthritis patients. “In that sense,” says Möller, “patient empowerment programs, such as the OAFI Foundation’s Patient Expert program, will serve to give patients a voice, to feel themselves understood and improve their morale.”
The aim of OAFI’s Patient Expert program is to educate osteoarthritis patients and provide them with tools in various fields to improve their quality of life. The program includes exercises to lose weight, to combat pain or to feel better.