Mental health and joint pain

Last modified: December 11, 2019

Muscle and joint pain does not necessarily mean that you have a joint disease. There may be many causes for pain in the joints. A common example is sore and swollen joints associated with inflammation, infection or excessive strain. Aches and swelling in the body may also be due to some form of temporary change. It is also possible to have psychosomatic joint pain. This means that the joint pain is due to something psychological rather than physical. But it also works the other way around. Mental disorders such as depression are often associated with joint pain and fatigue because it impacts mental health negatively to live with a chronic disease.

Joint pain and fatigue are related

Living with chronic joint pain is very tiring for both the body and mind. Chronic diseases frequently also mean chronic fatigue. Osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis are all different joint diseases that cause both joint pain and fatigue. Our bodies are constantly working to combat the disease when it is sick, and if several joints are affected at the same time, the fatigue can be paralyzing.

Living with constant pain and swollen joints can be extremely strenuous for both the person affected as well as those around them. It is not unusual for the affected person to take time off work due to sickness repeatedly, because joint diseases can often come in waves. This means that people have periods when the pain is worse than usual for no apparent reason. This also causes the mental health issues to be periodic.

Non-prescription pain relief for joint pain

The chronic joint pain and fatigue that come with a joint disease are difficult to eliminate completely. However, it is often possible to relieve the symptoms with training. Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medicines may also be used when needed. If you have a milder form of osteoarthritis or similar joint disease, non-prescription pain relievers that are available to buy at a pharmacy may be enough. It is important that they are in the NSAID category, as these have anti-inflammatory effects. However, this only provides temporary pain relief.

If you have a more severe joint disease, you should consult a general practitioner, an orthopedic specialist or a rheumatologist about the medicines that may be appropriate. The usual approach is to treat the symptoms with anti-inflammatory non-prescription tablets. If a person has really acute pain, it may sometimes be necessary to treat it with cortisone. Cortisone is a hormone which is naturally found in the body and may be given in injection or tablet form.

Mental and physical exercise to reduce both joint pain and fatigue

During tough periods, it may even be difficult and challenging to get out of bed or up from the couch. However, in the long term, it is essentially the only thing that helps in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It is not dangerous to move, even it is painful. Sitting still leads to increased stiffness, joint pain and fatigue. Activity also helps clear your head from negative thoughts and in the long term helps the affected person to feel better. Start easily with a daily walk and then build up the training when you can.

A form of mental training which has proved to be very effective is mindfulness. A combination of this form of mental workout with different types of physical activity is one of the best approaches. Mindfulness is about taking control of your breathing, negative thoughts and feelings, and learning to let go of them. At the same time it helps all parts of the body relax. This requires some training and a desire to do it.

Joint pain and fatigue – in summary

We all experience pain in different ways. But it is also known that the experience of pain is affected by how we feel in general. An active lifestyle together with meditation has proved to be very effective against joint pain and fatigue. This can make a person who would otherwise feel both physical and mental fatigue associated with joint disease feel better and stronger.

Continue reading about meditation.