Osteoarthritis: Besides pain, it leads to social isolation and loneliness among the elderly, says study

Among elderly groups, osteoarthritis or difficulty in mobility contributes to social isolation, pain and loneliness.

World Arthritis Day

Due to loneliness and social isolation among adults, mainly due to their lack of mobility, researchers from the American Geriatrics Society point out the link between osteoarthritis, a condition that might lead to joint pain and loneliness among elders. Patients of arthritis also suffer from anxiety, depression, fear of mobility due to joint pain, physical immobility or inactivity, and inability to care for themselves.

Moreover, arthritis affects 30% of adults who have crossed 65 years. They tend to grapple with some form of arthritis or the other. Their leg becomes affected. Still, enough research has not been conducted to firmly emphasize the connection between arthritis and isolation.

In order to research further into arthritis and its contribution to global social isolation, researchers conducted a study from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA) study. Information was collected from a European research project consisting of 2,942 seniors from six diverse European countries, namely United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Researchers examined 1,967 people in the age group of 73 or above and published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In order to find out about the level of social isolation and loneliness in every adult, both at the beginning of the study as well as after 12-18 months, each one was asked to fill out and answer questionnaires that asked how often they saw and reached out to family and friends. They were also asked to fill in details of volunteer activities or social groups that they had become members of.

While half the surveyed participants were women, of which almost 30% suffered from arthritis, researchers found that the initial questionnaire results showed something interesting. Almost 20% of the participants suffered from isolation even in the first stage of the study.

Those members in the study who were not socially isolated were usually younger and enjoyed better incomes as well as education. Members who remained socially connected also enjoyed better health and seemed more attractive, even as they underwent less pain and improved mobility.

Osteoarthritis can lead to social isolation Wikipedia

There were 1,585 members who were not socially isolated in the initial stages of the study, but 13% became lonely when the second survey ended about 12-18 months later. That group said that their arthritis had become worse between survey periods. They also reported greater pain and lack of mobility, depression, as well as issues related to thinking and arriving at decisions.

The study's authors said that with more social isolation, there is always greater osteoarthritis. Apart from arthritis, problems with thinking, arriving at decisions, and slower mobility could be the reasons for loneliness.

Scientists said that elderly adults who had arthritic pain still need to keep themselves active and involved in social activities. They also said that examining local senior group centers that offer some activities, especially for elderly people, can be useful. Fiber-rich food is often recommended for the patients of arthritis.

Fiber-rich diet could lower risk of painful osteoarthritis