Mood and Depressive Symptoms May Predict Momentary Pain Among Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Mood and Depressive Symptoms May Predict Momentary Pain Among Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to a recent study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, mood and depressive symptoms may predict momentary pain among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

“The results of this study link momentary positive and negative mood with momentary pain in daily life,” said in a recent news release Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland, associate professor of biobehavioral health. “That is, we found evidence consistent with a common, but largely untested, contention that mood in the moment is associated with fluctuation in pain and pain-related restrictions.” The link was examined among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, but may extend to other populations.

Results from the study showed that a positive mood assessed in the moment was associated with fewer arthritis-related restrictions and less pain, with an association between negative mood and more restrictions. The researchers found that the participants who reported more severe depressive symptoms reported more pain and daily life restrictions.

Subjects were given mobile devices so they could rate their pain and mood five times per day for a period of seven days. The researchers also asked participants to rate pain, stiffness, swelling, and arthritis-related restrictions to activities and routines in the same period.

 “Although it is relatively common to hear people in everyday life acknowledging that their mood can exacerbate their physical pain, most evidence for this view is derived from cross-sectional comparisons, longitudinal associations over fairly lengthy periods of time, such as months or years, or laboratory studies where mood and/or pain are manipulated, as opposed to naturally occurring in everyday life,” Graham-Engeland said.

Previous investigations have used end-of-day assessments of pain and mood. However, according to the researchers to correctly identify the association between pain and mood, multiple assessments per day were utilized. “Several of our analyses suggest that momentary positive mood is more robustly associated with momentary pain than negative mood,” Graham-Engeland said.

The team suggests that multi-component interventions incorporating non-traditional methods with pharmaceutical treatments are necessary to improve pain and quality of life in patients with RA. The researchers mentioned that questions concerning causality and directionality of effects still remain, this study indicated that interventions targeting depression and momentary mood need to be explored in patients with RA and chronic pain in general.

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