Can Stress Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis

 

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Although some people think stress may be a cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) there is no actual proof that stress causes the onset of this disease. However, stress is known to be one of the triggers which may bring on a flare up of symptoms in those who are afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis.

A flare up of RA occurs when your normal state of health worsens over a period of a few days.   The flare up may be brought on by something which happened a few days ago. It could be brought on by something you ate, by an infection of some kind, by being overly tired or by stress.

Stress can make the RA symptoms worse, but having RA will cause stress, so its an ongoing battle trying to cope with the stress and the rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition to coping with the stress from the disease you need to cope with the everyday stresses of life. Then at times there are the major stressful events such as a death of someone close to you, the loss of a job, the trauma of moving or the heartbreak of divorce.

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis need to develop a way to reduce the stress in their lives. There are several things which may help you to cope.

You want to engage in some form of exercise regularly. Regular exercise can improve your mood, help keep your joints mobile, reduce pain and reduce stress. Follow your doctor’s advice. Aerobic exercises may be the easiest for you to do. If you are experiencing a flare up you may need to rest and curtail your exercises until the flare up is over.

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There are other exercises you may want to try besides the aerobic exercises. Strength training using weights or resistance training can be helpful.

If you are not inclined or not able to engage in exercising on your own you might consider working with a physical therapist who specializes in helping people who have RA.

Meditation is a good way to help relieve stress. When you meditate you focus on your breathing, relax your mind and concentrate on images you find peaceful and calming.

Try to get a decent nights sleep regularly. Attempt to go to bed and get up at the same times each day. When you do retire for the night turn off the TV or computer or e reader. If you need a few minutes to relax before sleep try reading a book instead. The lights from electronic equipment can hinder sleep.

If you are a smoker you should stop. Although some RA patients smoke to help cope with stress, smoking actually can make the rheumatoid arthritis worse and may interfere with the effectiveness of your medications.

When you do have a flare up of your RA you hopefully have a support system in place. If you have someone to help you through these painful periods that will make it easier for you. If you need to handle flare ups on your own you need to have ways to handle everyday tasks which are harder to accomplish during these times.

There is no one way that will work for everyone to manage stress in their life. Some people find it helps to talk with a friend, family member or therapist. Try not to take on too many tasks. Include some activities in your weekly schedule to relax and feel calm. If you try to accomplish too much or push yourself too hard you may experience problems from your rheumatoid arthritis.