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Abused children may have arthritis later

New research hints that physical abuse suffered during childhood may increase the risk for osteoarthritis - the wear-and-tear form of arthritis.

Abused children may have arthritis later

New research hints that physical abuse suffered during childhood may increase the risk for osteoarthritis - the wear-and-tear form of arthritis in which the cartilage cushioning the joints gradually breaks down.

Previous investigations identified stressors of living with abuse as a child, subsequent unhealthy adult behaviour, and depression as potentially tied to development of painful osteoarthritis. Researchers studied 11,108 men and women in Canada to investigate the relationship between childhood physical abuse and osteoarthritis (OA) while controlling for age, sex, race and socioeconomic status, in addition to the following types of risk factors for OA: concurrent childhood stressors, adult health behaviour and depression.

A significant association was found between childhood physical abuse and OA. Seven percent of the participants reported the childhood physical abuse by someone close to them. Ten percent of the participants had been diagnosed with OA and this group was nearly two times more likely to report being physically abused during childhood.

Notably, after allowing for many known risk factors for osteoarthritis, including obesity, age, income, and education, the association between childhood physical abuse and osteoarthritis remained.

The researchers concluded that association between childhood physical abuse and osteoarthritis remained significant even after controlling for many risk factors that may mediate the relationship. Further research is needed to investigate potential pathways through which arthritis develops as a consequence of childhood physical abuse.
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