Experiencing Painful Osteoarthritis: What Have We Learned From Listening?

Gillian A Hawker


Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009;21(5):507-512. 

In This Article

Osteoarthritis Pain is Fatiguing!

Until relatively recently, fatigue was not considered a feature of osteoarthritis and rarely evaluated. However, Wolfe et al.[28] showed that similar proportions of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis reported 'clinically important' fatigue in the last week (fatigue was evaluated using a visual analogue scale, VAS, with anchors at '0 – fatigue is no problem'; and '3 – fatigue is a major problem'; clinically important fatigue was defined as a VAS rating of ≥ 2/3). In their study, 41.7% with rheumatoid arthritis compared with 41.1% with osteoarthritis met criteria for clinically important fatigue. This and subsequent research has clearly linked fatigue to the osteoarthritis pain experience.[28,29] Wolfe et al.[28] showed quantitatively that 25% of the variability in VAS fatigue ratings was explained by pain in the last week similarly evaluated using a VAS. In focus groups of 46 community-living adults with moderate-severe hip or knee osteoarthritis, Power et al.[30] qualitatively documented substantial fatigue among participants, who described different types of fatigue – mental and physical – and attributed their fatigue to osteoarthritis pain and pain medications, as well as aging and poor sleep.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.