Category Archives: Symptom Management

depression anxiety

Four Tips for Managing Anxiety If You Have Arthritis

The pressure of coping with arthritis can ratchet up stress and anxiety – a condition that affects as many as 1 in 3 people with arthritis. And that, in turn, can worsen the symptoms of chronic diseases and contribute to a host of other problems.

“When we are stressed or perceive a threat, our body responds with physiologic responses that prepare us to fight or escape the enemy,” says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor emeritus at Union Graduate College in Schenectady, N.Y. “Our heart rate and breathing speed up, our muscles tense and blood flow to the brain increases, putting us in a state of high awareness.” That can help protect you if the enemy is an attacking tiger and the threat ends quickly. But when ongoing stress leads to anxiety (excessive worry), it can result in a heightened awareness of symptoms – for instance, pain feels worse – as well as increased susceptibility to infection and risk of other health problems, including heart disease. Anxiety can have indirect health impacts, too, if it leads to inactivity, interferes with sleep or leads you to eat unhealthy foods for comfort.

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causes of hand pain

Hand Pain: What You Should Know

Twenty-eight bones, 29 joints and an intricate network of ligaments, tendons and nerves in your hands make it possible to button a shirt, braid hair, slice a steak or give a thumbs-up. But when arthritis or a related condition affects the hands, the simplest tasks can be painful. Dori Neill Cage, MD, an orthopedic hand surgeon in San Diego, lists some common arthritis-related problems that affect the hands.

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joint replacement cardiovascular side effects

Joint Replacement May Help Your Heart

Replacing damaged joints gives people with arthritis a dramatically improved quality of life – with reduction or even elimination of pain and improved mobility. A new joint can give you a new lease on life, allowing you to resume activities you love and improve your mood and relationships. But like anything in life, there are risks and benefits. A group of studies about the effects of joint replacement on your heart demonstrate those risks and benefits.

Studies published in recent years,  suggested that certain people are at increased risk of heart trouble following joint surgery. For example, a study in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases in 2011 found an increased risk for cardiac complications following joint replacement surgery in older patients and in those who had pre-existing heart disease, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. And a 2012 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that hip and knee replacement surgery boosts the risk of heart attack  during the first two weeks after surgery, particularly in patients older than 60.

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gum inflammation

Surprising Triggers of Inflammation

Reining in runaway inflammation is essential for managing arthritis, especially autoimmune, inflammatory varieties such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis. Taking your medications as prescribed is essential, but certain lifestyle changes may lower inflammation, too. For instance, smoking sparks inflammation, says rheumatologist Susan Goodman, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, so the choice is simple: Don’t. These other inflammation triggers may be less obvious.

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road trip tips arthritis

Road Trip Tips for Arthritis

The stress and tension that often come with road trips can add to physical discomfort and even lead to an arthritis flare. But with proper planning and a few travel tips, you can reduce surprises and anxiety, says Elin Schold Davis, an occupational therapist and coordinator of the Older Driver Initiative for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in Bethesda, Md. Here’s how.

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lupus rheumatoid arthritis blood clots

Arthritis Patients Face Increased Risk of Blood Clots

People with autoimmune disease such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to get dangerous blood clots during hospital stays. In fact, one 2014 Arthritis Research & Therapy meta-analysis of 25 studies found that people with inflammatory rheumatic diseases were three times more likely to experience venous thromboembolisms (VTEs, or blood clots in the veins) than the general population.

Lupus patients are four times more likely than people without an autoimmune disease to develop blood clots when hospitalized. And RA patients are one-and-a-half times more likely to develop blood clots during a hospital stay. According to a 2011 study from researchers in the United Kingdom, anyone with an immune-related disorder faces some sort of increased risk.

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emotions and joint pain connection

Can Adjusting Your Attitude Ease Joint Pain?

Happy thoughts aren’t what come to mind when pain and stiffness are dragging you down, but forcing them into focus may help ease your pain.

Optimism counteracts sadness and fear – feelings that can heighten pain perception, says Burel Goodin, PhD, a psychologist and anesthesiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who researches the link between pain and optimism. Because optimists believe their situations can improve, they are more likely to eat healthfully, exercise regularly and take other actions that lead to better health and less pain, he says.

Not feeling very upbeat? Take these steps to act your way to optimism.

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