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Can guided imagery help with distraction for RA pain management?

Guided imagery is a technique that can help the mind and body to relax. This, in turn, can help with various forms of pain including rheumatoid arthritis in two ways.

The brain senses joint pain, for example, through a pathway. When there is inflammation around joints, the joints send a pain signal through nerves to the spinal cord. The spinal cord sends that message of pain to the brain. The brain has to decide how it wants to respond and then sends a message back to the spinal cord, which then sends that message to the joints. Guided imagery takes advantage of people's imaginations. For example, a person may imagine that he or she is on the beach and think about how the beach would look, smell, sound, and feel. When that message of joint pain comes through to the brain-- from the spinal cord-- the brain may decide that that message is not that relevant and send a message back to the spinal cord to ignore that signal.

Stress and anxiety can also increase pain. By helping the mind and body to relax, guided imagery can decrease anxiety and therefore, decrease pain.

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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.