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Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

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Nurture a Healthy Attitude to Fight Arthritis Pain

No one should have to live with arthritis pain. It doesn't seem fair, and it's not. It is natural to sometimes feel like a victim, or experience any number of other emotions -- frustration, depression, anxiety, despair, anger.

While these emotions are normal human responses to chronic pain, they don't help you feel any better. In fact, just the opposite -- they can bog you down in negative thoughts, making the situation worse.

There is nothing positive about arthritis pain, but you can take a positive approach to living with it. Know the strategies and commit to giving them a chance. Here are suggestions:

  • Cognitive-behavioral training. This is a kind of psychotherapy you can do yourself. A psychologist or other mental health professional can teach you the methods. Cognitive-behavioral training can help you avoid negative thoughts that make pain worse.
  • Join a support group. Being with people who understand what you're dealing with makes you feel less alone.
  • Exercise. Believe it or not, exercise will make your joints feel better, not worse. Even if you're in pain, there are some exercises you can do. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. Build an exercise schedule into your treatment plan and stick to it. Over time, the results can be dramatic.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. Drink alcohol in moderation. Don't smoke! Cigarettes, alcohol, or unhealthy foods can seem comforting when you are in pain, but in the long term they won't help. You deserve better -- you deserve the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Get additional support from a mental health professional. The vast majority of people with rheumatoid arthritis are not mentally ill, but being in chronic pain can cause feelings of depression. Asking for help can be a sign of strength, not weakness.

Visit the Arthritis Foundation Pain Center for more information.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on January 14, 2015
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