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Coping With the Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Nurture a Healthy Attitude Towards 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
  • Despair
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

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 pain, but you can take a positive approach to living with it. Know the strategies and commit to giving them a chance.

  • 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 only 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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 10, 2013

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