Does stress affect my arthritis?

You will be better able to manage stress in your life if you:

  • find ways to change negative thinking
  • build a support system
  • learn to relax

Did you know that stress can negatively impact your arthritis? Stress can increase muscle tension, which can be related to increased pain among people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to the everyday stress that everyone has, having arthritis may increase your stress at times. You may feel stress from not being able to do the activities at the same rate or in the same way you used to. You may find it hard to rely on others for help. You may feel stress about how your joints look. Learning to manage stress can help you feel better mentally and physically as well as reduce your pain.


Learning to change negative patterns of thinking is an action you can take that will also help you manage stress. For help with that skill, see Changing Your Point of View.

Building a support system will also enable you to better handle stress. With a support system, you are less likely to feel you are alone when things get rough. Also, your support system can help you put your feelings and circumstances in perspective. For help in knowing how to build a support system, see How can I get the support I need to manage depression?

You can't always avoid stress, but you can manage it. Studies show that stress reduction is important for any type of long-term illness, including arthritis. You can restore your sense of self-control over your joint symptoms and reduce stress by learning about therapies such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and guided imagery.

Learn to Relax

You can use the following techniques to help you learn to relax and better deal with stress.


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