The Relationship Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Negative Emotions

· October 28, 2018

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects all the joints of the human body. It produces very uncomfortable symptoms such as persistent pain, inflammation, loss of mobility, and stiffness in the affected areas. As of now, no one knows what causes it. However, some research has established a relationship between negative emotions and rheumatoid arthritis and its evolution.

Psychology became important in the study of this disease at the beginning of the 20th century. However, people didn’t start taking it seriously until the year 1950. That year, rheumatoid arthritis was classified as one of the most important psychosomatic disorders. From that moment on, there was a lot of research on this subject.

In this article, we’ll talk about everything that’s known about the existent relationship between negative emotions and rheumatoid arthritis. We’ll also delve deeper into the most important characteristics of this disease. In addition, we’ll be giving some advice on how to better coexist with it.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

The symptoms appear in the main joints of the body, the most affected being the finger and wrist joints. However, the symptoms can appear in any part of the body where two or more bones are united.

Joint pain.

It’s possible to find symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the following areas:


  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Jaw
  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Hips

The symptoms of this disease may vary depending on the person who suffers from it. Nonetheless, the most common symptoms are swelling, lack of mobility, burning sensations, hypersensibility, and pain. Let’s study each of these symptoms.

1. Swelling

The first symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is often swelling in the affected joints. It could be exacerbated depending on the level of severity of each case. When the disease isn’t that severe, the swelling may disappear on its own. However, the disease is usually accompanied by pain in more severe cases.

2. Lack of mobility

In general, it’s more difficult to move our joints when they’ve increased in size. When this symptom becomes severe, the person may encounter serious difficulties when it comes to doing certain activities.

3. Burning sensation

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often accompanied by an uncomfortable burning sensation in the affected areas. In most cases, this only represents a slight discomfort. However, when added to the rest of the symptoms, it can become an impediment.

4. Hypersensitivity

In addition to the other symptoms we’ve discussed, people with rheumatoid arthritis also suffer from an increased sensitivity in the affected joints. This also causes more pain.

5. Severe pain

The worst symptom that people affected by this disease usually describe is severe pain every time they make certain movements. They can also feel pain when they suffer even a small blow to the affected joints. The thing about this kind of pain is that it’s so severe that, on certain occasions, it can keep people from living a normal life.

A person with knee pain.

The relationship between negative emotions and rheumatoid arthritis

We’ve discussed what this disease is about and its characteristics, but what’s its relationship with negative emotions? Recent research showed that some emotional states can exacerbate the most problematic symptoms of this disease and even make the person more vulnerable to suffering from it in the first place.

Out of all the emotions that we’re capable of experimenting, the ones that most relate to this disease are depression, anxiety, and anger. On the contrary, traits such as efficacy or resistant personality usually correlate with less severe symptoms.

The reality is that there isn’t a single known cause for this disease. However, its relationship with negative emotions is well-documented. That’s why many doctors consider that working with the patients on an emotional and psychological level is the best treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors state that, when patients with rheumatoid arthritis work on bettering their emotional expression and comprehension, their symptoms improve. Even though the symptoms don’t go away completely most of the time, a lot of patients have found that training their emotions and being more self-aware has significantly bettered their quality of life.

That’s why having the correct coping mechanisms to face this disease is key. If you’re suffering from the symptoms we discussed in this article or if you know someone who is, don’t hesitate to go to a mental health professional. A good therapist may help you fight even the most acute symptoms of this disease.