15 Ways to Tame Arthritis Pain With Your Mind

Dial down the chronic pain of arthritis with these simple mind-body practices (17 Photos)

Laurie Tarkan and Laura Flynn McCarthy on Jun 12, 2012 at 1:12PM

chime in now
  • 1 of 17

15 Ways to Tame Arthritis Pain With Your Mind

Iconica/Getty

Next Up: 17 Myths About Chronic Pain
starts in 3 seconds
    Loading slides...

Mind Over Pain

Chronic pain is both physical and psychological, so certain ways of thinking can make it worse, says Ingela Symreng, Psy.D., director of psychology for the department of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of California at Davis. “Fear, anxiety and depression around pain may cause more suffering than the actual physical pain condition,” she says. Chronic pain is like a broken alarm system, she explains, designed to trigger a “fight or flight” response. That works great if you touch something hot—it hurts, so you pull your hand away. With chronic pain, however, you can’t get rid of the discomfort, so you’re left with an intense, unrelenting focus on it and a surfeit of adrenalin, which causes anxiety. “You have to retrain your brain to react differently to these signals,” says Dr. Symreng. This is the crux of cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be highly effective in reducing pain, but you can learn these techniques on your own. Here are five common responses to pain that make it worse—and what you can do to change them.

Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web