Emotions and Arthritis Pain

Learn how pain and emotions are connected and the critical part emotional health plays in your pain management strategy. 

Pain signals that travel up the spinal cord and into the brain, end up in the mood center as well as other parts.. Many studies have shown that pain affects your emotions, and your emotions affect your arthritis pain. When joints or other parts of your body hurt, you may feel angry, sad, depressed or stressed. But when you’re happy and focused on positive things (enjoying your child’s wedding day, for example), you may hardly notice your aching fingers. 

The way your mind controls thoughts and attitudes affects the way you cope with pain. Pain and the fear of pain can cause you to become anxious and avoid physical and social activities. This can weaken your relationships, affect your mobility and lead to more pain. Depression is also very common among people living with chronic pain. Arthritis pain can cause depression or worsen existing depression. Likewise, depression can make existing pain worse. 

Since emotions and pain are closely linked, caring for emotional health is a critical part of arthritis disease management. Several key factors affect your emotional health, including : 

  • relationships and support system 

  • attitude and life outlook 

  • use of outlets for dealing with anxiety and stress 

  • ability to recognize and deal with depression 

  • lifestyle choices that enhance wellness 

If you better understand what’s affecting your emotions, you may be more able to manage your pain experience. Successfully managing pain requires using different strategies. You should work together with your family, friends and health-care team to address the physical and emotional factors that influence your arthritis pain. 

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