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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissues for unknown reasons. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, "scientists estimate that about 2.1 million people, or between 0.5 and 1 percent of the U.S. adult population, have rheumatoid arthritis." Scientists still don't know exactly what causes the immune system to turn against itself in rheumatoid arthritis. Most experts believe the disease develops as a result of an interaction of many factors.

Patients often report that episodes of stress or trauma preceded the onset of their rheumatoid arthritis. While stress is nearly impossible to measure, some researchers have suggested that stressful life events, such as divorce, job loss, death of a loved one or accidents, are more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis during the six-month period before disease onset compared with the general population.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, it's both interesting and important to know if stress triggers the disease or if stress worsens rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Either way, it is to your benefit to eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. With daily stress that cannot be eliminated, it must be well-managed.

Is there concrete evidence that stress is a trigger of rheumatoid arthritis? Is stress a factor in disease activity for rheumatoid arthritis? Can stress lead to flare-ups in patients with rheumatoid arthritis? Read more in Does Stress Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Photo by Muriel Miralles de Sawicki (stock.xchng)

June 12, 2008 at 8:40 pm
(1) Julie McLean says:

I have symptoms of arthritis in my left arm and hand. My doctor is not sure why I have pain there, but I noticed it seems to get worse when I am menstruating and I wanted to bring this possible cause to others’s attention to hopefully help those who unfortunately, suffer from arthritis. This obeservation of mine obviously pertains to women sufferers of the condition. I have to discuss this also with my doctor.

January 31, 2011 at 8:50 am
(2) Chris Martin says:

Methatrexate, cortozone and Remicade (anti TNF)have kept my RA in remission for about the last year.
Starting a new job in a different country and having to deal with the stress of finding housing, sorting out the job, being away from family, has resulted in a significant Flare. I am convinced that significant stress levels have an effect on symptoms. I will find out tomorrow if the blood test reveals a rise in CRP.

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