Health conditions that can worsen knee osteoarthritis pain

The thing, about these health disorders or conditions, is that they are caused by the presence of osteoarthritis. Hence, if your osteoarthritis is not properly cared for, it can worsen your osteoarthritis – causing you more pain and pain.

Firstly, let’s look into these disorders that can later backfire, if we don’t manage our knee osteoarthritis properly


Obesity means you have too much body fat. It’s usually based on your body mass index (BMI), which you can check using a BMI calculator or the formula below;

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BMI compares your weight to your height. If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you’re overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is in the obese range.

Research studies have shown that obesity is a mild chronic inflammatory (pain causing) disease that causes the body to produce pain by producing pro-inflammatory (substances that cause pain) cytokines and cytokine like substances known as adipokines that may act on the knee joint. Leptin is a type of adipokines that has been linked to increasing knee osteoarthritis pain. Leptin is a pain causing cytokine protein produce by the adipose tissue or fat cells in the body. Hence, the higher your BMI, the more leptin you have circulating in your body, the more the knee osteoarthritis pain.

Obesity is a medical condition that can cause knee osteoarthritis.  Therefore, if there is no weight is loss, it becomes a problem that worsens knee osteoarthritis pain.

PseudoGout (Chondrocalcinosis)

Chondrocalcinosis is a medical condition in which calcium forms crystals that build up in the cartilage of joints. It’s one of those things that most typically occurs as people get older.

Chondrocalcinosis produce enzymes that are directly involved in the breakdown of the knee joint cartilage and activation of other enzymes that cause more structural damage to the knee joint.

In addition, the calcium crystals produced may cause a direct mechanical damage to the articular cartilage of the knee joints. Hence, the calcium crystals deposited within the knee joint space causes pain.


Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night, and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Getting up too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired upon waking

There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.

  • Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).

Acute and Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs.

It can be short-term (acute insomnia)or can last a long time (chronic insomnia).

Also, It can come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems.

Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks.

Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for three months or longer.

How Insomnia affects knee osteoarthritis pain?

“It’s less about pain keeping you awake at night than it is about a bad night’s sleep leaving you more vulnerable to pain,” explains Patricia A. Parmelee, PhD, director of the University of Alabama Research Institute on Aging in Tuscaloosa. “It works both ways, but the stronger direction is that sleep problems – whatever their cause – can make your experience of pain worse.” 

Research studies are showing that there is a relationship between greater pain in patients who have knee osteoarthritis and clinically diagnose insomnia than those without insomnia.

Furthermore, studies have shown that even after controlling BMI and age, pain evoked in insomnia patients (with knee osteoarthritis) is greater.

Emerging research shows that the joint pain of OA can become “centralized.” This means that pain pathways become over-excited and pain is amplified beyond what would be typical for the amount of damage found in the joints.  

In addition, pain can catastrophize and it occurs in two forms

  • Assuming that something bad will happen
  • Expecting that it will be as bad as possible.


Arthritis Foundation

Quartana, P. J., Finan, P. H., Page, G. G., & Smith, M. T. (2014). Effects of insomnia disorder and knee osteoarthritis on resting and pain-evoked inflammatory markers. Brain, behavior, and immunity47, 228–237. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2014.12.010

National Sleep Foundation


In summary, if you have one or more of these disorders, you need to take care of them by visiting your doctor. These health disorders have been shown to heighten or make worse knee osteoarthritis pain.


Seun Fasina

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