Does emotional health impact pain in rheumatoid arthritis?

Quoted from Medivizor

In a nutshell

This study investigated if emotional health affects pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They found that emotional health, along with physical state can have an effect on pain in RA. 

Some background

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term condition. It leads to painful swelling and inflammation in the joints. As RA progresses, tissue in the joints will get damaged. This leads to persistent pain. Pain is one of the most debilitating RA symptoms. This also leads to a reduced quality of life and can lead to poor mental health. 

Pain can be affected by both physical and emotional factors. Physical pain can arise from damage or injury. Some patients with RA that achieve remission (no symptoms) continue to report pain. It is unclear why this is. Some of these patients may have mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Studies have shown that patients with these conditions are more likely to experience pain. It is, however, unclear if emotional health plays a role in pain in RA.

Methods & findings

This study included 548 patients with RA. Patients' physical state, emotional health, and pain were assessed using standard questionnaires.  Physical state significantly affected emotional health in patients with RA. Together, physical state and emotional health had significant effects on pain. Anxiety was reported in 18.7% of patients and depression in 29.4%.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that emotional health, along with physical state can have influence pain in patients with RA.

The fine print

This study shows there may be a relationship between emotional health and pain. However, there are a number of factors that may also influence both of these factors. Long-term studies are needed to establish if emotional health has a direct effect on causing pain in RA.

What's next?

If you have any concerns regarding RA management and pain, please consult with your doctor.