Effect of light & season on pain & depression in subjects with rheumatic disorders

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The clinical and neurochemical association between depression and

season noted in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has

suggested that clinical pain might also be linked to season,

perhaps through similar neurochemistry or the known

association of depression with pain. We investigated the

pain-light season/dark season hypothesis in 2523 rheumatic

disease outpatients by examining VAS Pain and VAS Global

Severity scores, as well as levels of depression and

functional disability. No clinically significant difference in

pain severity between season (or individual month) was noted

for the consecutive outpatients at their first clinic visit,

nor in sub-analyses using paired light and dark season visits.

A slight trend toward increased pain severity in lighter

months by about 3% compared to darker months was identified.

No effect of season was seen on depression scores. In a subset

of patients with high depression scores, rheumatoid arthritis

and osteoarthritis patients, respectively, reported 16% and 7%

greater pain scores in light compared to dark months, but

fibromyalgia patients had stable scores. Season does not

appear to play an important role in pain and/or depression in

rheumatic disorders.

Hawley DJ, Wolfe F

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