Fatigue and Physical Activity in Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability for adults. For people with knee or hip osteoarthritis, symptoms of pain and fatigue can cause mobility problems, decreased physical activity, and reduced quality of life. There are currently several modes of treatment to manage osteoarthritis pain. However, less is known about fatigue in osteoarthritis making it difficult to treat clinically.

In past studies, Susan L. Murphy ScD, OTR has examined fatigue among people with knee or hip osteoarthritis. These studies show that while fatigue is related to pain, these symptoms are experienced differently. Although pain is usually considered the main problem in osteoarthritis, fatigue measured over time during a home monitoring period was more severe and more strongly related to physical activity levels compared to pain. People with osteoarthritis also are more ‘fatigable,’ that is, they experienced more fatigue after periods of high physical activity compared to age-matched control participants.

The goals of Dr. Murphy’s research are to better understand fatigue and how it affects physical activity for people who have knee or hip osteoarthritis and to develop effective fatigue management interventions for this group.