Do you think that stress only affects your brain health? This is far from the truth. In fact, if you have pre-existing conditions such as osteoarthritis, you may experience worsened conditions if you are under constant stress.
In the case of osteoarthritis, many people find themselves in a catch-22. The condition causes debilitating joint pain, which interferes with the person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. This, in turn, causes undue stress and frustration, which causes more pain. As you can see, there is a close link between mental stress and the disabilities associated with Osteoarthritis.
Mental and emotional stress often go unrecognized as a triggering factor which causes pain in Osteoarthritis. When stress isn’t dealt with and builds up in a person, it has an adverse impact on the body as a whole. Tense muscles and joints can even occur in healthy individuals who are stressed. For someone with arthritis, these symptoms are even worse.
Stress can also lead to insomnia and overeating. Insomnia can negatively impact one's immune system. Weight gain places can cause a variety of health issues including worsened joint health for those with arthritis and heart health.
This dangerous cycle must be interrupted in order to maintain a normal life. Recognizing excessive stress is the first step. Changes in behavior such as increased use of alcohol and cigarettes, nail biting, worrying, fidgeting, and overeating, adds increased strain in one’s life. It’s important to talk to a physician about this since other medical conditions may be triggering this behavior.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and not only improves joint flexibility but releases endorphins, which promotes improved moods. It strengthens the muscles around the joints and maintains bone strength. Physical activity also helps with a good night’s sleep and weight control. It is a common misconception that exercise increases the pain of osteoarthritis. Lack of exercise actually can make joints even more painful and stiff. Strength training and aerobic exercises are often recommended by physical therapists to treat Osteoarthritis.
Listening to relaxing music, massages, yoga, meditation, and creative activities are other ways to decrease stress and stress-induced pain.
Although every-day stress is unavoidable, it is proven to cause a chain of unhealthy experiences. Make an effort to stop excess stress and you will find yourself on the pathway to an overall healthier life.