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10 Ways to Increase Arthritis Pain (Yes, Increase!)

Actions That Have Negative Impact

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Updated September 11, 2013

Arthritis pain can interfere with daily living activities. It is important to manage pain and minimize its negative impact. Do your actions control your pain or do some of your habits and routines actually increase your pain level? Whether pain is acute or chronic, there are ways that surely increase your pain - which is contrary to the desired effect of reducing pain. That's why it is important to pay attention to what you do.

1. Over-do Activities

Pushing past your physical limitations can increase pain. Imagine starting your day with a list of things you need to accomplish. As you progress through the tasks, you feel very tired and pain becomes more intense. You're not sure you can continue, but you push yourself to finish what's on the list. By not listening to your body, you go beyond what you should do. Pain increases when you don't pace yourself.

2. Do Not Rest or Relax

Activity should be balanced with rest and relaxation. Without periods of rest and relaxation, your body rebels by sending pain signals. If you maintain a high level of activity and intensity, without balancing it out, the cycle of fatigue, pain, more fatigue, and more pain is engaged.

3. Do Not Exercise

Exercise can actually ease or decrease chronic pain. Regular, gentle movements keep muscles toned and help you build strength and flexibility. If you do not exercise your muscles become weak, sometimes to the point of atrophy. Lack of exercise can lead to deconditioning, weakness, and pain.

4. Skip Medications

Doctors prescribe medication to be taken according to specific directions. The directions inform you of the optimal way to take the medication so you will achieve the most benefit. If you skip doses, you are not allowing your body to respond to the medication properly. Skipping your medication may have a consequence -- more pain.

5. Get Inadequate Sleep

A good night's sleep is considered part of a good health regimen. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "of people with rheumatic or arthritic disorders, as many as 75% often suffer from sleep problems. In general, there is a high prevalence of sleep problems in various medical conditions with pain often altering the sleep process, and at the same time, the sleep problem interacts with the disease process."

6. Gain Weight

Being overweight, even just moderately, impacts weightbearing joints and can increase the pain of arthritis. For every pound a person is overweight, three to five pounds of extra weight is added to each knee during walking. In contrast, a ten pound weight loss causes 30 to 50 pounds of extra stress to be relieved from the joints. Weight gain equals more pain.

7. Don't Protect Your Joints

The principle of joint protection is self-explanatory. You can protect your joints by using assistive devices, wearing supports, using better body mechanics such as using large joints rather than small joints, and resting the joints. By not adhering to these principles of joint protection, you risk increasing your pain and damaging your joints.

8. Pile on More Stress

Excessive stress can increase pain and make it more difficult for people with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, to cope with the added burdens imposed by their disease. Immune function, stress and disease are interconnected. Increased stress can exacerbate pain.

9. Pessimism Provokes Pain

Chronic pain can be life-altering. Pain feeds pessimism, and pessimism feeds pain. Feeling down because of the impact of chronic pain is expected - to a point. But, if your mindset becomes totally pessimistic, you are giving into the very actions which increase pain. If you feel pessimistic and hopeless, you are less likely to be compliant with medications, treatments, exercise, and positive actions. There is a mind-body connection.

10. Focus on Unproven Remedies

Chronic pain can become so distressing that a person is willing to do almost anything in an attempt to halt the agony. They may be drawn to unproven remedies, gimmicks, and quack cures. If the person is buying into (both literally and figuratively) quack cures, they diminish the time and effort given to proven and acceptable treatments. Worthless treatments may lead to more pain.
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