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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safe yoga exercise tips

Get the Rewards of Yoga Without the Risks

From easing pain to boosting flexibility, yoga has a long list of benefits for people with arthritis.

“Yoga is as safe as walking when it’s done properly,” says Steffany Moonaz, PhD, founder of Yoga for Arthritis and a research director at Maryland University of Integrative Health.

However, many people do poses incorrectly or without proper support. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 11 percent of people who did yoga experienced pain at some point as a result, and 1 in 5 said yoga made an existing injury worse. Stay safe with these simple tips.

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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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family dynamics and arthritis

When Arthritis is a Family Affair

Alberta Dillihay’s children began urging her to stop working soon after her 2010 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis. Stress from her job as a public works supervisor in a busy office 45 minutes from her home, combined with finding the right arthritis treatments, could affect her health, they argued.

“I was and am glad they were concerned and want to help. But sometimes it’s frustrating because you feel you’re being treated like a kid,” says Dillihay, 63. “You can still do what you need to do.”

When a mom has arthritis, the family dynamic often changes. “That means who’s in charge shifts, as does who’s taking care of whom,” says Eve Wittenberg, PhD, a senior research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science at Harvard University in Boston. “There are downsides, but there can also be huge satisfaction to changing a relationship with a child or partner; the ability to let others help can strengthen bonds,” says Wittenberg, who studies family dynamics in chronic illness. She and Nancy Ruddy, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Montefiore Health System’s College of Medicine in New York City, offer this advice. 

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joint friendly vacation tips

Don’t Let Stress Get in the Way of Your Vacation

Sometimes you’ve just gotta get away and reboot for good mental and emotional health. Even a weekend getaway can help you recover from stressful work. A longer vacation may lead to greater psychological well-being and life satisfaction – if you can detach from your routine, plan your own schedule, do something challenging and relax, according to one study. But vacations can be stressful, and excess stress can worsen chronic pain when you have arthritis. Send vacation stress packing with these tips.

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integrated medicine for arthritis

Integrative Medicine Approach for Arthritis

Some people with arthritis feel that doctor-patient communication can sometimes seems narrow and impersonal. Integrative medicine aims to be different.

“Patients are at the center of integrated medicine; our goal is to partner with them to address the physical, emotional, social, environmental and spiritual factors that affect health,” says internist Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C. “This approach is very inclusive. We practice and believe in Western medicine, but we also have an openness to complementary modalities that help address the whole person.”

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arthritis misdiagnosis

Arthritis Misdiagnosis

For 20 years, Frances Muller’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was misdiagnosed. A neurologist told her the pain in her hands was carpal tunnel syndrome. An internist told her the all-over aches were the flu. An orthopaedic surgeon said she had bursitis in both shoulders. “None of my symptoms made any sense,” and none of the treatments helped, says Muller, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. After she’d seen 13 other doctors, an orthopaedic surgeon who ordered an X-ray of her pelvis finally figured it out: there was no way she could have so much damage to her hips and not have RA.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most common medical errors, occurring in about 10 to 20 percent of cases, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. It can lead to unnecessary or delayed treatments and physical and emotional suffering.

In rheumatology, where symptoms and diseases frequently overlap, even experienced and well-intentioned physicians can miss important clues. “For many rheumatic diseases, there’s no gold standard [for diagnosis],” says Don L. Goldenberg, MD, chief of rheumatology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts. “You don’t biopsy it. There aren’t a lot of laboratory tests.” If patients are concerned, they should get a second opinion, he adds.

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genetically modified foods

Genetically Modified Foods: What You Should Know

When you have arthritis, you know that what you put in your body has a huge impact on your health and well being. Maybe you’ve seen foods in grocery stores marked “Non GMO” or heard the debate over genetically modified organisms, and you may be wondering if you should avoid them. Opponents say foods with GMOs may be harmful, and a law was passed in 2016 requiring labels on them. Some manufacturers are voluntarily labeling their products. But experts say safety concerns are overblown.

“There is a lot of confusion and fear surrounding GMO ingredients in foods,” says registered dietitian Kim Larson, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Let’s clear up the confusion.

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