How Does Stress Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a condition that can be significantly affected by stress in several different ways. Even though stress is not thought to be a direct cause of RA, it has been shown to worsen symptoms of the disease and may even contribute to the course of the disease. Loved ones and elder care professionals can help seniors reduce their stress and hopefully help when they have Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

Understanding the Connection Between Stress and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Elder Care Wyckoff NJ - How Does Stress Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Elder Care Wyckoff NJ – How Does Stress Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Inflammation: Stress hormones, like cortisol, are known to contribute to the development of inflammation in the body. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may have increased joint pain, edema, and stiffness due to this inflammation.

Immune system dysregulation: Stress has been shown to interfere with the regular functioning of the immune system, which in turn impairs the immune system’s ability to control the immunological response appropriately. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by a condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly assaults healthy joint tissue, resulting in persistent inflammation. It is possible that stress plays a role in an excessive immune response, which can make the autoimmune process even more severe.

Pain perception: Stress can lower the body’s natural pain threshold, which results in a heightened awareness of existing pain. Seniors who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis already have joint pain, and stress can worsen their pain. This makes it more difficult for these individuals to manage their symptoms successfully.

Sleep problems: Stress can cause sleep patterns to become disrupted, leading to poor sleep quality or insomnia. Sleep is critical for seniors who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis because it enables the body to regenerate and repair damaged tissues while the patient is asleep. It’s been shown that not getting enough quality sleep can make pain, exhaustion, and overall health worse.

Coping skills: The ability of seniors to deal with chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis can be negatively impacted by stress. It is possible that it will raise emotions of worry, sadness, and helplessness, all of which can harm their capacity to manage their disease properly.

Can Treatment Be Affected By Stress?

The effect of rheumatoid arthritis treatments may have their effectiveness diminished if seniors are under significant stress. This is thought to be due to stress hormones’ interference in the absorption, metabolism, and use of drugs. These treatments may be less effective in reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms.

With this information, it’s easy to see the importance for seniors who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis to prioritize managing stress and implement techniques that will lower their stress levels. Loved ones and elder care support can be instrumental in reducing stress. Suggested activities might include relaxation techniques, practicing mindfulness, or meditation.

Seniors should also maintain a healthy lifestyle and consult healthcare professionals for more direction and support if needed. In addition, regular exercise can also reduce stress as it produces endorphins and gives seniors an overall good feeling. With a strong support system that includes elder care, seniors can gain assistance with their stress levels and hopefully minimize issues with rheumatoid arthritis as well.


If you or a senior family member are considering hiring Elder Care Services in Wyckoff NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today at (973) 427-3553.

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Pamela DelColle, RN, CCRN
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