Exploring the relationship between chronic pain and cortisol levels in subjects with osteoarthritis: results from a systematic review of the literature

J. H. Villafañe, Paolo Pedersini, L. Bertozzi, L. Drago, J. Fernandez-Carnero, M. D. Bishop, P. Berjano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Several reports in the literature have identified an association between cortisol levels and the presence of chronic pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain or whiplash. In contrast, few have examined the association of cortisol and pain in people with osteoarthritis (OA). The purpose of this systematic review was to verify the association between cortisol and pain in the OA population. Design: The databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE were searched systematically for human studies written in English up to December 2018. Two researchers screened titles and abstracts against predefined inclusion criteria; a third resolved discrepancies. Articles were included if they measured the cortisol levels in adults with pain in the OA population. Methodological quality was assessed using Methodological Index for non-randomized Studies (MINORS) score. Results: Seven studies reporting on 415 patients were included in this review. The MINORS scale yielded mean scores of 8.6 of 16 and 17.5 of 24, for the cohort and case–control studies respectively. In general, the studies were of poor quality. A discrepancy of noteworthy associations between cortisol level comparison and pain was found. Conclusions: This study shows that there is a discrepancy in the relationship between cortisol and pain dependent on how and when cortisol is measured. Evidence from three low-quality studies suggest increased cortisol levels in patients with pain but the conclusions have a high risk of bias. It was not possible to make a quantitative analysis comparing the relationship between cortisol and pain in the OA population.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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