How can negative thinking affect osteoarthritis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

When you live with the chronic pain of osteoarthritis, it is easy to get caught up in negative thoughts, such as, "I'll always be in pain" or "This pain is ruining my life." But negative thinking is counterproductive because it can lead to hopelessness that can discourage you from taking steps to improve your condition—such as exercising and losing weight.

Talk to your doctor about different treatment options that may improve both your osteoarthritis pain and your mood.

Negative thinking is counterproductive with regard to almost everything in life, including osteoarthritis. It is energy that is wasted that could be put to better use. We only have so much time in this life to respond to the things around us. All of us need to think better, act better, and not let the negative thinking during adversity steal our time. Osteoarthritis is debilitating and frustrating for the patient that wants to exercise. The pain associated with it can certainly be discouraging but exercise can actually help in some cases. You should see your doctor for recommendations for exercise and possible treatments that will leave you a little less discouraged. At the end of the day, it is up to you and your doctor to see that you can and are able to continue to be active.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Negative thoughts can affect how you cope with osteoarthritis or any other health condition. Depression and anxiety have been strongly linked to osteoarthritis, especially in older people. Researchers think this happens because the functional limitations from osteoarthritis can make living with it frustrating.

Here are some things you can do to help avoid or cope with anxiety:

  • Don't miss taking your osteoarthritis drugs.
  • Use family and friends as support.
  • Exercise and find time to rest.
  • Reduce stress through relaxation, music, massage, yoga, and other methods.
  • See a social worker or counselor.
  • Share your concerns with a support group of people who have arthritis too.
  • Keep a pain journal to document your symptoms for yourself and your doctor.
  • Stay educated about your condition.

Negative thoughts can keep building to the point where dwelling on a problem too much can be a barrier to fixing it. Focusing on ways to solve problems is much more productive. Consult your support network, including your family, friends and your doctor. If you find you can't shake your negative thoughts, you may want to get help from a counselor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.