Category Archives: Symptom Management

expressive writing to relieve arthritis stress

Relieve Arthritis Stress With Expressive Writing

While living with arthritis can create stresses most people might not even think about, a technique called expressive writing may bring relief, both mentally and physically. For example, maybe you’re angry because pain is keeping you from joining friends on a shopping trip or playing with your kids – again. You may be stuck in anger.

“But in addition to anger, you probably also feel grief, loss and a lack of control over the circumstances,” says clinical psychologist Mark Lumley, PhD, psychology professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Expressive writing can help bring forward those less-accessible feelings besides anger that don’t always have a voice.

Writing this way reduces inner conflict and provides you a better sense of emotional balance – and perhaps even less pain – when you express those feelings on paper.”

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aromatherapy essential oils

Essential Oils: What You Should Know

Aromatherapy won’t cure your arthritis, but it may ease certain symptoms and help you feel better. For example, lavender is sometimes used to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Some research shows aromatherapy may even have benefits for pain. Two small studies found aromatherapy massage with lavender or ginger and orange oils led to short-term relief of knee pain.

“It doesn’t work for everyone, but some have good outcomes,” says Sue Cutshall, a Mayo Clinic integrative health clinical nurse specialist. However, as with other “natural” treatments, you should exercise caution when using them; in rare cases, they can be hazardous.

Essential oils are the foundation of aromatherapy. The oils – extracted from plants, flowers, herbs and trees – are most often used for their scent, but they can also be mixed with lotions or alcohol and used as bath or massage products.

Most essential oils have few side effects or risks when used as directed, but some can cause harm. Undiluted essential oils can provoke skin problems, and citrus essential oils can increase sun sensitivity.

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when to go to the emergency room

Know When to Go to the Emergency Room

You’re feeling sick but your doctor is booked and the nearest urgent care center is 45 minutes away. There’s always the hospital emergency room, but your symptoms aren’t that bad. Should you just tough it out?

Figuring out how and where to handle an illness isn’t easy. It’s even harder for people with inflammatory types of arthritis, because complications related to the disease and its treatment can be serious, says Uzma Haque, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Here’s what she suggests:

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boost positivity and decrease stress

Five Positive Ways to Boost your Mood and Relieve Stress and Pain

It’s not always easy to stay positive – but dwelling on negative thoughts can do more than put you in a blue mood; your thoughts affect the way you feel mentally and physically, says Helen Grusd, PhD, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist who specializes in health psychology. Studies have shown that gloomy thoughts can worsen pain and fatigue and negatively affect your immune system.

Fortunately, positive thinking can have the opposite effect. Try these simple mood boosters.

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reading sunscreen labels

How to Read Sunscreen Labels

Wearing sunscreen is especially important for people with inflammatory arthritis and conditions such as lupus, because their medications or disease may make them extra sun-sensitive. But choosing the right sunscreen may not be so simple. The good news is sunscreen labels – governed by federal regulations and designed to rein in over-reaching claims like “waterproof” and “sunblock” – can help you pick the best protection for your skin. Here’s what to look for on sunscreen labels.

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arthritis severity factors

What Determines How Severe Your Arthritis May Become?

A diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis can leave you wondering what you’re in for: Will you face along, bumpy road with your disease, or will it respond well to minimal treatment? Although there is no crystal ball, research into different forms of inflammatory arthritis is identifying factors that predict the likelihood of more or less severe disease.

Knowing these factors enables your doctor to target treatment, says David Pisetsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. “With evidence of a worse prognosis, most rheumatologists will monitor patients more closely, try to get disease control more rapidly and adjust medications to achieve a [disease] activity score as low as possible,” he says. Plus, steps to taper treatment in those who achieve remission “would be more cautious and gradual,” he adds.

Here are prognostic factors your doctor may consider. Continue reading What Determines How Severe Your Arthritis May Become?