Video Q & A:

Daily Life and RA


Does stress worsen my RA symptoms?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

Emotional stress is indeed a rheumatoid arthritis trigger. Watch this to learn why and how to prevent it.

Transcript: STRESS is one of the few PROVEN triggers of rheumatoid arthritis pain. If you’re undergoing emotional or psychological stress from something like a DIVORCE or a HECTIC job, your rheumatoid arthritis may flare up. And this cause and effect relationship IS backed up by clinical evidence. A 2007 study out of UCLA showed that chronic interpersonal stress INCREASED the inflammatory proteins that CAUSE pain and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Stress also DECREASED the ability of corticosteroids to RELIEVE the inflammation. A 2008 study, also from UCLA, further proved the stress--flare connection. They studied three groups of people – 11 patients taking biologic medication, 10 patients NOT on biologics, and 20 healthy people. Researchers submitted each group to stressful, mentally challenging tasks. The patients who were NOT on biologics had more inflammatory molecules shortly after. This study indicates that biologics may diminish the effect of stress on rheumatoid arthritis. Stress seems inevitable--especially when you have to deal with your RA--but there ARE many ways to avoid it. Make sure to take FREQUENT breaks from work or chores. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga to calm down if you’re having a tough day. And there’s no shame in consulting a therapist if you need to. Get more answers to your RA questions by watching other videos in this series. More »

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