Can Stress Make Arthritis Worse? An Expert's Perspective

Stress can be a major contributor to the worsening of arthritis symptoms. Even those with the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, find that stress can exacerbate their discomfort. Stress can cause you to tense your muscles, which only increases joint pain. This can create a vicious cycle of pain, fatigue, and lack of sleep that can be difficult to break.

Worrying about a future disability, getting pregnant, or having difficulty paying medical bills can all add to the stress. Some forms of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis, can also contribute to stress through their effects on appearance. The embarrassment of trying to hide skin plaques can damage your self-image. Exercise doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing.

Having that mentality can make exercising more stressful. Instead, try going for walks and doing some full-body stretches at home. This will keep you agile, your joints flexible and lubricated, and most importantly, reduce your stress. You can start with a short, gentle yoga routine at home or try some aquatic exercises at the local pool.

The Sarasota Arthritis Center can assess your overall health and well-being and then recommend a holistic treatment and self-care program to help you feel better. Inflammation is what causes joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AD), and other inflammatory forms of the disease. Just as stress can worsen arthritis symptoms, the chronic pain, swelling, and inflammation of arthritis can greatly contribute to overall stress levels. The Arthritis Foundation's JA camp programs give children with arthritis and related childhood rheumatic diseases an opportunity to create lasting memories.Your arthritis specialist can prescribe a combination of treatments depending on the type and severity of your arthritis.

These treatments may include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain; physical therapy to improve joint function; or lifestyle changes such as weight loss or exercise.Larsen and other arthritis patients talk about how they deal with stress to minimize its impact on arthritis. Stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or mindfulness can help reduce stress levels and improve overall health.It's important to remember that stress is a normal part of life and it's okay to feel overwhelmed at times. The key is to find ways to manage it so that it doesn't worsen your arthritis symptoms.

Jill Sizemore
Jill Sizemore

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