Self-esteem and a strong social network predict who is able to avoid being disabled by knee arthritis. That was among the findings of a 3-year study of a group of men, which were published in Arthritis & Rheumatism in December 2003. During the study, the researchers had 236 patients in their mid to late 60s undergo a variety of physical tests and fill out questionnaires. The results of the study helped the researchers identify a number of factors associated with declining knee function, including severity of pain and looseness in the joint.
A different set of factors was linked to better outcomes, such as patients? ratings of their confidence level in performing particular physical tasks, their mental health, and their level of social support. In fact, the link between these social factors and good outcomes remained true even when scores were adjusted for degrees of pain and other measures of physical disability. The researchers concluded that the findings should remind patients and physicians that pain management is not the only way to address this ailment.