Make Exercise A Priority
When your joints ache, you might not feel like going for a brisk walk or swimming laps. Try your best to do something.
Being active is especially good for people with RA. It eases pain, improves mood, lowers stress, and helps keep joints mobile.
Go for cardio . Pick activities that are easy on your joints, like swimming and walking.
Also do strength training. You can use light weights, machines at the gym, resistance bands, or your own body weight .
If youâre not active already, ask your doctor whatâs OK for you to do. And pace yourself. You may need to take it easier when you have a flare.
If your symptoms get in the way of exercise, work with a physical therapist who specializes in treating people with RA. You’ll learn ways to build strength, feel better, and zap stress.
Get The Best Of Stress
Just because you have RA doesnt mean you have to feel stressed all the time. Theres plenty you can do to control the stress in your life and reduce its impact on your well-being. Here are five ways
1. Exercise. It can help with depression, , and sleep. Physical activity can even increase levels of chemicals in your body that improve your mood.
2. Breathe deeply. To promote relaxation, practice deep breathing, in through the nose and out through your mouth. Feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe.
3. Talk it out. Telling someone about negative emotions youre experiencing can help relieve stress. If you dont feel comfortable talking about these things, write them down in a journal.
4. Embrace the outdoors. Spending time in nature can boost your mood and quell stress. Take a hike or scenic drive. Enjoy a picnic. Plant a garden.
5. Get organized. At the end of each workday, create a to-do list for the following day. This can help you leave work behind so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
What Is Autoimmune Disease
These are fascinating and mysterious conditions in which the bodys immune system “misfires” and attacks its own tissues. There are scores of autoimmune diseases out there. Some of the most well-known are , psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
In some cases, a condition is labeled “autoimmune” based on conventional wisdom or expert consensus rather than hard science. And Ive seen the term “autoimmune” used loosely to apply to any condition of unknown cause in which inflammation is present or the immune system appears to be active. But an infection could do the same thing. So perhaps some of these conditions now considered to be autoimmune will turn out to be chronic infections by an organism weve not yet identified.
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Get Out There And Get Some Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin is good for bone and joint health, and it can help with depression.
On spring and summer days, getting 15 minutes of warm sun on bare skin, such as arms, legs and face will give you your daily dose.
The Effect Of Stress On Arthritis
Stress. There is no avoiding it completely. It is a part of everyday life. Just when you think it is gone, it is back again. It is the way the mind and body react to tension and pressure. Too much stress can increase pain, can make a person prone to illnesses, and can make it more difficult for people with arthritis to cope with the added burdens imposed by their disease.
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Arthritis And Mental Health
Learn more about the connection between arthritis, depression and anxiety, and how these conditions can make your arthritis worse.
Having any form of arthritis including osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis , psoriatic arthritis , lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, gout or fibromyalgia can have a negative effect on your mental health. This most commonly manifests as depression or anxiety. It works the other way around, too. Mental health problems can worsen arthritis symptoms.
Defining Anxiety and Depression According to the American Psychological Association:
- Anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension, worry and irritability along with physical changes like increased blood pressure.
- Depression is characterized by sadness, a lack of interest in daily activities, weight loss or gain, sleeplessnessor excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
How Mental Health Affects Arthritis Rates of depression and anxiety in people with arthritis-related diseases vary depending on the population, the size of the study, and the measurement tools used. But data shows that the rates can be between two- and ten-times greater than the rates of the general population, depending on the type of arthritis.
The Reverse Cause And Effect
People with arthritis must confront the same kinds of stress as everyone else. Additionally, living with chronic arthritis creates another medley of stressful problems. Chronic arthritis adds the stress of pain, fatigue, depression, dependence, altered finances, employment, social life, self-esteem, and self-image.
During stressful times, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream and physical changes occur. The physical changes give the body added strength and energy and prepare the body to deal with the stressful event. When stress is dealt with positively the body restores itself and repairs any damage caused by the stress. However, when stress builds up without any release, it affects the body negatively.
A vicious cycle occurs in the relationship between arthritis and stress. The difficulties which arise from living with chronic arthritis create stress. The stress causes muscle tension and increased pain along with worsening arthritic symptoms. The worsening symptoms lead back to more stress.
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The Consequences Of Stress Go Beyond Ra
Experiencing exceptional stress when you have RA may increase the risk for other serious health concerns. For instance, theres evidence that RA patients with higher levels of stress and anxiety are more likely to have atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty acids in the arteries and precursor to cardiovascular disease. Its also likely that stress ups the chance of depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions among RA patients, says Dr. Askanase. Obviously, stress is bad for the body in general. Exactly how stress increases vulnerabilitydoes it lead to the production of more inflammatory molecules?is still being investigated.
Make Some Lifestyle Changes
Work around problems. When RA symptoms flare up, everyday tasks can be harder to do. Look for solutions. If typing hurts your hands, try voice recognition software for your computer. In the kitchen, you might find that new utensils with bigger grips make cooking easier. These little changes can take some of the stress off you.
Keep up with your sleep. Get up and go to bed at the same time each day to set a regular sleep cycle. If you can, don’t take work home from the office. Turn off the TV, computer, and phone at least an hour before bed.
Do what you love. Think about the things you enjoy doing, such as having coffee with a friend, reading, or seeing a movie. Build those activities into your weekly schedule.
Don’t smoke. Some people with RA smoke to deal with the stress of their condition, but that’s not a good idea. Studies have found that smoking can make rheumatoid arthritis worse and make medication less effective.
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When To Seek Help
If youre able to manage your RA with medications and lifestyle choices, you may only need to see your doctor for regular checkups. If your symptoms change or if flare-ups are becoming more frequent or more severe, see your doctor soon. Dont wait months for your next appointment.
Keep your doctor informed about your health. If youve started taking a new medication and suspect its interfering with your sleep, for example, tell your doctor. Your doctor may be able to recommend changes to your routine or healthcare plan that can have positive impacts on your health and the management of your RA.
Stay Away From Foods That Make You Feel Worse
The effect of diet on arthritis has been disputed for years. Some claim there is no direct effect, while others claim certain foods increase inflammation and make arthritis symptoms worse. This is likely the most individual tip of all those listed.
If you are aware that certain foods make your arthritis feel worse, steer clear. This will not be the case for every person with arthritis, but if it does apply to you, don’t eat foods that trigger inflammation.
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Autoimmune Disease And Stress: Is There A Link
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
A new study has raised the possibility that stress may cause autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, because it found a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases among people who were previously diagnosed with stress-related disorders.
I have patients who heard about this research and are saying, “I knew it!”
But before we accept a potential link between stress and autoimmune disease, lets look at some details of the study and consider how we define the terms “autoimmune disease,” “stress,” and “stress-related disorder.”
Meditate For Arthritis Pain Relief
When you think of meditation, you may imagine sitting in the lotus position on a cushion while repeating one word or phrase over and over. If this doesnât appeal to you, donât worry. Meditation comes in many forms — you can meditate while walking, exercising, or taking a shower. “Meditation can be extraordinarily helpful for those with osteoarthritis,” says Kolasinski. “It can help reduce stress and anxiety, and also help people learn to cope better with their pain.”
Meditation is the act of clearing your mind to get in touch with whatâs happening in your body. You can do this by focusing your attention on an object, such as a candle flame or a stone in your garden. Or, for a more active meditation, focus on the rhythm of your feet as you walk or the feeling of water spraying your body in the shower. If your thoughts drift back to your to-do list, thatâs fine — just gently bring your focus back. It may take some patience and practice, but many people find that a few minutes of meditation a day can do wonders to help relieve stress. As you become more comfortable with meditation, you can practice for longer periods of time.
If you need help getting started, you can find many books, DVDs, CDs, and apps about meditation in your local bookstore, library or online. Look for an approach that appeals to you.
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Exploring The Connection Between Stress And Autoimmune Disease
In this new study, researchers analyzed more than 100,000 people diagnosed with stress-related disorders and compared their tendency to develop autoimmune disease at least one year later with 126,000 of their siblings, and another million people who did not have stress-related disorders.
The study found that individuals diagnosed with a stress-related disorder
- were more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease
- were more likely to develop multiple autoimmune diseases
- had a higher rate of autoimmune disease if younger.
*Patient-years is an expression that combines how many and for how long people are assessed in a study. If the frequency of a condition is 9 per 1,000 patient-years, that means 9 people would develop the disease among ,1000 patients monitored for 1 year, or among 500 patients monitored for 2 years, and so on).
A particularly important observation was that, for those with PTSD who were being treated with an SSRI , the increased rate of autoimmune disease was less dramatic. While these observations are intriguing, they dont tell us why or how a stress-related disorder might provoke or cause autoimmune disease.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Ups
October 19, 2017 by Edward Harrison
Occasionally people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a flare up. A flare up is when symptoms have been controlled, but then suddenly become worse. The RA sufferer experiences three or more days of increased joint pain, swollen joints, and stiffness. An understanding of what causes RA flare ups and what to do about them can help family members of older adults with RA to assist with managing them.
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Types of Flare Ups.
The Arthritis Foundation states that there are two kinds of flare ups:
- Predictable Flares: These types of flares have triggers that the RA patient is aware of. For example, if older adults with RA overexert themselves cleaning the house or engaging in other strenuous physical activity, they can expect to have a flare up. Predictable flares usually last a few days and resolve on their own.
- Unpredictable Flares: Unpredictable flares are ones that the RA patient cannot associate with a trigger. They simply feel worse, and dont know why. These types of flares sometimes require medical care to resolve.
Common Flare Up Triggers.
There are several things that may trigger flare ups. Some things to be mindful of in aging family members with RA are:
Managing RA Flare Ups.
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The Relationship Between Psychosocial Variables And Neuroendocrine And Immune Mechanisms In Ra
Research clearly demonstrates links between psychosocial functioning and disease activity, and associated pain and disability in RA . Further, exacerbations and overall outcomes in RA incorporate complex interactions between psychosocial and disease-related variables . Personality, psychological stressors, threat appraisals of RA, perceived ability to cope with RA and associated pain and disability, coping strategies, and social support have been shown to be related to pain levels, disability and RA disease activity . Further, research indicates that psychosocial factors may act upon RA disease activity and associated physical adjustment through neuroendocrine and immune mechanism modulation .
Previous research indicates that psychosocial variables have complex relationships with both neuroendocrine and immune processes . However, there is a paucity of research that has examined the interrelationships between psychosocial, neuroendocrine and immune variables, and their contribution to susceptibility and exacerbation of illness, including RA. Nonetheless, findings to date suggest that psychosocial variables, such as psychological stress , appraisals , depression , beliefs in coping abilities and social support may contribute to illness by disrupting stress system hormone release, which in turn affects immune mechanisms on bodily processes, including susceptibility to and exacerbation of illnesses such as RA .
Working With Your Doctor
You may not need to see your doctor every time you have a flare-up.
However, if pain and other symptoms last beyond a few days, you may want to make an appointment. Your doctor can investigate any symptoms that seem to be progressing, such as a reduction in flexibility.
Tracking flares through a journal or app can help you and your doctor to monitor the progression of your OA. The information you collect can help inform the decisions you make about treatment.
Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. These can help identify changes that might indicate whether youre experiencing a flare-up, long-term damage, or both.
If the results suggest new changes, your doctor will help you adjust your treatment plan to take these into account.
In time, flare-ups may become more frequent and symptoms can start to affect your mobility and quality of life. At this point, you may wish to consider joint replacement surgery.
Surgery is usually the last option for treating OA, but many people find it resolves recurring flare-ups and decreases the pain.
for OA and an OA flare-up usually involves a combination of over-the-counter or prescription medications and home remedies. Talk to your doctor about the options below.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Although it is not always necessary to contact a doctor during an osteoarthritis flare-up, symptoms that persist for more than a few days may need medical treatment.
The doctor may request imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, to check for changes to joints and other damage. They will likely recommend medications to treat pain.
If necessary, the doctor may suggest additional treatments to address triggers, such as CBT for stress.
Osteoarthritis flare-ups are not always preventable, but some strategies can help minimize risk.
For example, people with osteoarthritis may find the following tips helpful:
- Maintain a moderate weight by making healthy dietary choices and getting plenty of exercise.
- Reduce stress through meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises.
- Take measures to get enough sleep.
- Engage in regular exercise to strengthen the bones, lubricate the joints, and increase muscle mass.
- Wear supportive braces to help protect and stabilize the joints.
- Use assistive devices to reduce stress on the joints.
Some foods and beverages that may help prevent inflammation include:
- fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are good sources of antioxidants
Inflammation And Stress: Theyre Closely Connected
Research shows that stress may play a role in the cascading process that leads to inflammation and causes RA pain. Inflammation in RA is partly caused by molecules called cytokines. While cytokines can be released for a variety of reasons, stress also releases them. If youre stressed and are producing more cytokines, you will most likely develop more inflammation, which may result in more pain.
Whether we consider rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus, or any other rheumatic disease, the presence of emotional stress may well exacerbate the condition, says Richard Roseff, MD, a rheumatologist at Danbury Hospital and a private practitioner in Danbury and Ridgefield, Connecticut.
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