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Osteoarthritis patients 'negatively affected by a fear of movement'

Published on 15 November 2017
Osteoarthritis patients 'negatively affected by a fear of movement'

People with knee osteoarthritis are experiencing a decreased quality of life due to a fear of movement associated with the condition.

This is according to a new US study carried out by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which has indicated that this fear of movement may be causing those with osteoarthritis to lead less active lifestyles, putting them at risk of their conditions worsening.

Factors affecting fear of movement
For this study, a total of 350 participants taking part in a clinical trial were asked to evaluate their fear of movement, as well as providing details on their age, sex, race, education, pain levels and general daily activities.

Trends such as knee symptom duration, depressive traits, injury history and balance were also assessed, with results published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research.

It was found that 77 per cent agreed with at least one item on the Brief Fear of Movement measurement scale, with 36 per cent endorsing three or more items, suggesting they had a pronounced fear of movement. It was found that patients' age, daily activity levels, history of depression and capacity for exercise all had a big influence on their mindset in this regard.

Possible interventions
Overall, the results suggested that many people with knee osteoarthritis are being held back from staying active due to these concerns, suggesting that more could be done to provide patients with appropriate counselling support.

The researchers concluded: "Fear of movement was common among patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, and this could negatively impact physical activity.

"Psychological variables were significantly associated with fear of movement, suggesting behavioural and psychological interventions may decrease fear of movement and improve outcomes among individuals with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis."

Arthritis Research UK's view
Devi Rani Sagar, research liaison manager at Arthritis Research UK, said: "More than four million people in the UK live with knee osteoarthritis, which causes pain, isolation and fatigue.

"We know that the chronic pain caused by arthritis can be a barrier in keeping active. This understandable fear of movement, caused by the pain someone can feel, is a factor in stopping people from including exercise in their daily lives.

"Exercise is incredibly important and we are committed to helping people remain active. We have developed specialised exercises tailored specifically for people with knee osteoarthritis to help people build up the confidence to exercise. We also recommend that a person with their arthritis speak to their GP if they are worried about exercising."

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