Rheumatoid Arthritis And Mood: Is There A Link?

First Posted: Jul 30, 2015 10:55 PM EDT

Want to lower your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms? Findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine show that a positive attitude could actually help out quite a bit. 

In fact, patients who reported a more positive attitude during the day had less pain and few related symptoms.

Statistics show that rheumatoid arthritis can cause depression in patients as the pain may restrict movement and activities overall. This potentially serious autoimmune disease typically affects the small joints of the hands and feet, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity if not properly treated.

"The results of this study link momentary positive and negative mood with momentary pain in daily life," said Jennifer Graham-Engeland, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State University, in a press release. "That is, we found evidence consistent with a common, but largely untested, contention that mood in the moment is associated with fluctuation in pain and pain-related restrictions."

For the study, researchers gave 152 participants cellphones that prompted them to report their mood and pain level 5 to 7 times a day. The phone also asked them to rate pain, swelling, stiffness and arthritis-related restrictions to their everyday schedule five times during the day.

Findings revealed that patients with more negative or depressive mood moments throughout the day experienced greater pain and discomfort overall when compared to those with more positive ratings who experienced fewer.

"Several of our analyses suggest that momentary positive mood is more robustly associated with momentary pain than negative mood," Graham-Engeland said.

However, more research will be needed.

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