Rheumatologic pain conditions include such diagnoses as Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). OA and RA appear to have a prevalence of 7% and 1% of the population in the U.S. respectively. OA is considered to be a degenerative form of arthritis involving low grade inflammation of the joints, wearing of the cartilage, and diminished ability of synovial fluid to lubricate joints. The resultant pain is associated with avoidance of weight bearing, walking and standing behaviors that contribute to secondary complications including muscle atrophy and lax ligaments. While any joint can be affected by OA, the most common are joints in the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. RA also involves inflammation of the joints but includes soft tissue swelling as well. It is considered an autoimmune disorder (in this case, a disorder where the immune system turns upon its own joints resulting in pain). Pain is a consequence of the biological mechanisms underlying each of these Rheumatological disorders and needs to be considered in the overall management of the disorder. While psychological processes are not considered central to the development of OA or RA, psychological factors can play critical roles in the management of the chronic pain and quality of life issues associated with these conditions.
Note: Many treatment options are available for pain associated with Rheumatologic conditions both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. We only cover the psychological interventions on this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with your primary health care provider for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your health care provider.