Approach Arthritis with Your Mind and Body

There are more than 100 types of arthritis; most affect the joints, but some can affect the skin and internal organs. Frequently, when a flare-up occurs, the area around the targeted joint becomes inflamed, swollen and tender to the touch. Discomfort or pain associated with arthritis can be mild with infrequent flare-ups, or it can be debilitating, making it impossible to follow through with everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth, opening a door, dressing, walking, cooking, or even sleeping. Fortunately, you have the ability to change some or all of the arthritis pain you are experiencing simply by changing your way of thinking through visualization and imagery exercises. In order to do this, however, you must wrap your mind around the disease and confront it.

Visualization and Imagery

Based on new research at the Bangor University, it is possible to use imagery and visualization to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. During the study, 42 patients were asked to visualize their pain in the form of a person walking into the room. The patient was then instructed to thank the person for giving them the information that something was not right with their body. The patient then dismissed the person, visualizing the person (and the pain) becoming smaller and smaller. By the end of the study, it became apparent that the visualization exercise had paid off. Patients began to feel better, almost as if the pain had, in fact, been dismissed.

Meridian Tapping Technique

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician affiliated with St. Alexius Medical Center in Illinois, one of the underlying causes of rheumatoid arthritis is early age emotional trauma. The technique Mercola recommends for this trauma is called the Meridian Tapping Technique or Emotional Freedom Technique (MTT/EFT). MTT is a form of psychological acupressure. Mercola believes that when patient trauma is not addressed, it can manifest in the body and eventually disrupt the bioelectrical circuits, thereby causing damage to the immune system. When damaged or impaired, the immune system can become confused and turn on itself, as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Mercola uses MTT to treat emotional trauma, and thereby the immune system.

Arthritis is a Whole Bodily Undertaking

The first step to controlling the disease, rather than allowing the disease to control you, is acceptance. Accept that something is not right with you. Taking the time to discover exactly what is wrong is the second step to wrapping your head around this disease. Once you have a name for the problem, regardless of whether it is osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout, you can begin to form a plan. Together, your mind and body can come to an agreement on what's best for you. Some decisions that will need to be addressed include deciding what vitamins, medication or supplements you and your physician think would work best for you, what lifestyle changes might need to be implemented, and what to expect from the disease over time.

Recognize Signs of Joint Damage

Most people with arthritis feel a little stiff in the morning, and it stands to reason that there will be more pain during a flare-up, but it's also important to recognize the signs of joint damage and take stock of how often you are experiencing pain and swelling. Damage to the joint takes place when the joint is swollen, not necessarily when it hurts or is red and inflamed. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of your symptoms. A journal also gives your physician a good idea of what stage your disease is in, and where it might be heading. It can also help you assess your visualization and imagery skills.

Know Your Limitations

Physical exercise is another area where your mind needs to remain connected to your body. While exercise is a good way to stay strong and limber, it's important to know your limits. And while there is something to be said about exercising beyond the pain, it's even more important to stay within your physical limits during flare-ups to prevent additional damage. The mind can keep the body in balance by knowing its limits and making sure you stay within them.

Putting It All Together

When you know your limits, recognize the signs that indicate you are going beyond your limits, and know when to let up when swelling and pain are apparent, your mind and body have reached a harmonious state. And that's a good thing.



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