Osteoarthritis and Stress: How it Worsen Symptoms
At some point in our life, we have had all dealt with stress. For many it can be a constant presence, and with everything that has happened throughout 2020, it’s understandable that many people have been feeling under a lot more stress than usual. While it might seem like a purely mental issue, stress can actually exacerbate and worsen symptoms of pre-existing medical conditions.
Take how stress affects arthritis as an example. Stress induced joint pain can be particularly damaging to those suffering from a chronic disease such as arthritis whereby symptoms can in fact contribute to increased stress levels, especially when they seem consistent or unrelenting. Stress and the etiology of osteoarthritis can cause constant pain, fatigue, and poor sleep patterns in which each effect piles onto the previous one and causes the next leading to a vicious circle of stress and symptoms. Each symptom worsens the others and adds to the stress you already feel worsening the situation you find yourself in.
This vicious circle regarding how stress affects arthritis can become extremely problematic and damaging to your overall health. Higher levels of stress can cause muscle tension and increased pain along as your arthritis symptoms worsen. Research shows that stress may play a role in the actual inflammation that causes pain which can be partly caused by molecules called cytokines. Cytokines can be released for a variety of reasons, one of which is increased stress. This can lead to greater joint inflammation, which leads to more pain, therefore causing more stress and so on until it becomes almost unmanageable.
Also, those living with arthritis will have to face the same stress triggers as everyone else on a day-to-day basis, some of which may be a direct result of having to live with chronic arthritis itself and the challenges it throws up. Chronic arthritis adds the stress of pain, fatigue, depression, dependence, altered finances, employment, social life, self-esteem, self-image and higher medical bills to name a few.
Stress induced joint pain is an issue that more and more Americans are going to suffer from moving forward. This means that we need to find solutions to better manage and control our stress levels to prevent it from worsening arthritis symptoms and reducing the overall quality of our life.
How to Better Manage Feelings of Stress
Knowing how stress affects arthritis is one thing, successfully being able to manage it is another. There are three main components to an effective stress management program that include:
- ● Learning how to reduce your stress
- ● Accepting things which you cannot change
- ● Understanding how to overcome the damaging effects of stress
By focusing on these core aspects and looking to make positive changes, it will only relieve your stress but will also lessen the impact of stress induced joint pain. Here are some of the things you can do to help reduce your stress levels:
- ● Identify the root causes of where these feelings are coming from.
- ● Share your thoughts and feelings with friends, family, or trained experts.
- ● Look to manage your time better and focus on achievable tasks.
- ● Set short-term goals for yourself and tick them off once completed
- ● Set achievable life goals for yourself and build a plan for how to do this.
- ● Avoid turning to addictive products like drugs and alcohol. If you are having trouble with substance, reach out to addiction experts for help.
- ● Focus on improving your physical fitness.
- ● Unplug from endlessly scrolling through social media.
- ● Utilize a self-management arthritis treatment program, such as MyArthritisRx for support with this.
- ● Never be afraid to ask for help relating to your situation.
When it comes to accepting what you cannot change, you will notice that these damaging stressful feelings will have a reduced impact on your well-being. It is important that you realize that you can only change yourself, your own mindset and your own behavior, and have no control over things beyond this. By undertaking the above-mentioned practices, as well as actively doing relaxation techniques, stress will have a reduced impact on your physical situation and symptoms, as well as your mental health.
Both arthritis and stress affect millions of people globally on a daily basis. While there may be things beyond your control that can affect your symptoms, it’s important to focus on what you can take care of to help lessen the impact of stress induced joint pain. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face either the issue of stress or arthritis alone and that there are people out there to help and guide.
MyArthritisRx, your health, well-being and quality of life are our main priorities, so speak to us. Our arthritis self-management program can support you on your way to effectively managing your osteoarthritis and the symptoms it has without leaving your home.