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Arthritis Health Center

Questions and Answers about Arthritis Pain

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How Can You Cope with Arthritis Pain? continued...

Another technique is to substitute distraction for pain. Focus your attention on things that you enjoy. Imagine a peaceful setting and wonderful physical sensations. Thinking about something that is enjoyable can help you relax and become less stressed. Find something that will make you laugh -- a cartoon, a funny movie, or even a new joke. Try to put some joy back into your life. Even a small change in your mental image may break the pain cycle and provide relief.

The Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Center at Stanford University, supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has developed an Arthritis Self-Help Course that teaches people with arthritis how to take a more active part in their arthritis care. The Arthritis Self-Help Course is taught by the Arthritis Foundation and consists of a 12- to 15-hour program that includes lectures on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, exercise, pain management, nutrition, medication, doctor-patient relationships, and nontraditional treatment.

You may want to contact some of the organizations listed at the end of this fact sheet for additional information on the Arthritis Self-Help Course and on coping with pain, as well as for information on support groups in your area.

Things You Can Do to Manage Arthritis Pain

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night.
  • Keep a daily diary of pain and mood changes to share with your physician.
  • Choose a caring physician.
  • Join a support group.
  • Stay informed about new research on managing arthritis pain.

What Research Is Being Conducted on Arthritis Pain?

NIAMS, part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring research that will increase understanding of the specific ways to diagnose, treat, and possibly prevent arthritis pain.

Recent NIAMS studies show that levels of several neuropeptides (compounds produced by cells of the nervous system), such as substance P, are increased in arthritic joints. Substance P is involved in the transmission of pain signals via the nervous system. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, researchers are studying effects of substance P in the spines of animals with chronic arthritis. Findings from this study may be used to develop specific drugs for chronic pain such as that associated with arthritis.

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