Can Stress Make Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse? Stress is well known to TMS sufferers, as Dr. Sarno writes in Healing Back Pain: “The word stress is often confused with tension and seems to stand for anything that is emotionally negtive. I like to use it to refer to any factor, influence or condition that tests, strains, or in any way puts pressure on the individual. “We can be stressed physically or emotionally. Excessive heat or cold are physical stressors; a demanding job or family problems are emotional ones. The stress involved in TMS leads to emotional reactions that are repressed.” Dr. Hans Selye is credited with first drawing attention to how stress affects the body, says Dr. Sarno. His research and writing were prolific and stdand as one of the major accomplishments of medicine in the twentieth century. His definition of biological stress is: “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” Dr. Sarno says that stress can be either external or internal to the individual. Examples of external stress are your job, financial problems, illness, change of job or home, caring for children or parents. Internal stressors may be more important in producing tension. These include our personality such as being very conscientious, expecting perfection from ourselves, the need to excel, and others. Some people say they’re tense because their job is very stressful. But if they weren’t conscientious about doing a good job, if they weren’t trying to succeed, achieve and excel, they wouldn’t generate tension. Often such people are highly competitrive and determined to get ahead. Climb that ladder of success. They are more critical of themselves than others may be of them. A homemaker and mother with similar driven personality stresses herself as much as someone at work, whether inside or outside the home, but her focus is on the family. Trying to be the best mother, keep the best house. She also wants the best for her husband and children and will do everything she can to bring it about. She may also want everyone to like her, and may become upset if she feels that anyone is displeased with her. This compulsion to please is, says Dr. Sarno, of course not limited to women. He said a middle-aged man expressed identical sentiments to him in an office session. “Stress is outside what one might call the inner core of the emotional structure and is composed of the stresses and strains of daily life and, more importantly, aspects of one’s own personality. And stress leads to tension (repressed, unacceptable feeling). Steve Ozanich writes about stress and Hungarian-born Dr. Selye in The Great Pain Deception: “He understood stress to be a nonspecific response on the mindbody to the demands made of it,” which often results in chronic fatigue. Steve says it is clear and has been proven that fatigue and pain serve the same purpose. When we get overwhelmed or angry because we can’t escape a situation, we give ourselves the symptoms – fatigue being a common one from an infinite variety. The article blow tells about rheumatoid arthritis and stress. It does not mention TMS but I think that plays a big role in making RA and any other pain worse. Can stress make rheumatoid arthritis worse? In short, yes. However, the reality is a little more complex. That’s because while stress can worsen the disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can create stress for you. RA as Internal Stressor Stress is especially tough on people with autoimmune diseases such as RA. Some of the pathways involved in your body’s stress response are the same ones involved in autoimmune disease. For people with RA, stress releases chemicals that can trigger flare-ups, along with inflammation and pain. In addition, RA can affect your body’s production of the stress-related chemical cortisol. In other words, RA is a type of internal stressor. With time, stress chemicals like cortisol may increase your risk for serious health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and depression. These problems can lead to even more stress. As you likely already know, you may feel stressed because of your RA symptoms. No one likes moving slowly, and stiff joints can make it difficult to move around and get places on time. It can be stressful when daily activities or hobbies you love to do feel difficult or painful—or even seem impossible. Get the Best of Stress Just because you have RA doesn’t mean you have to feel stressed all the time. There’s plenty you can do to control the stress in your life and reduce its impact on your well-being. Here are five ways: 1. Exercise. It can help with depression, anxiety, and sleep. Physical activity can even increase levels of chemicals in your body that improve your mood. 2. Breathe deeply. To promote relaxation, practice deep breathing, in through the nose and out through your mouth. Feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe. 3. Talk it out. Telling someone about negative emotions you’re experiencing can help relieve stress. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about these things, write them down in a journal. 4. Embrace the outdoors. Spending time in nature can boost your mood and quell stress. Take a hike or scenic drive. Enjoy a picnic. Plant a garden. 5. Get organized. At the end of each workday, create a to-do list for the following day. This can help you leave work behind so you can enjoy the rest of your day. Key Takeaways · For people with RA, stress releases chemicals that can trigger flare-ups, along with inflammation and pain. Walt remembering: Two days ago, I had a stressful experience with a neighbor. He accused me of stealing, of all things, black DVDs and plastic cases from him, because those he loaned me to make copies of his family movies did not add up to his count on the number of discs and cases he gave me. I had told him several times that some of the discs he gave me were defective, and some of the cases broke. I resented him accusing me of stealing his discs and cases and it caused me to be emotionally stressed. I also felt he let me down, even thinking I would steal anything from him. What hurt the most, emotionally, was that far from stealing his stuff, when his discs failed and cases broke, I used some of my own to do the favor for him. But that didn't make any difference to him. He still acted like I stole from him. His lack of appreciation for my generosity pissed me off and I let him know it, loud and clear. The emotional stress that caused me did not create physical stress because I realized he has always demonstrated that he is a very negative person. He will not use a credit card unless absolutely necessary because he fears identity theft. He watches television news constantly and when I visit his driveway with my dog, he gives me a full report of the latest murder, corporate crime, political scandal, or war anywhere in the world. Visiting him is like drinking from a poisoned water cooler. I could have let his accusation of me stealing from him move into back pain, but I decided that was his personality. He is a negative person who thinks everyone is out to get him or do him harm. I doubt he will ever change. But I decided then and there that he didn’t appreciate my kindnesses to him and for my own mental and emotional health, not to visit him often again, or even at all. We sometimes can suffer stress from relationships outside the home or office. This became clear to me from that experience. That’s why stress was on my mind when I read the article above, although I do not suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. If you do, I hope some of this is helpful to you. Stay well and avoid people who poison your drinking water with their sour outlook on life. Spend more time with those who have a positive disposition. Like my dog. There isn’t a drop of poison in her water bowl.