Mind Body Treatments to Ease RA Pain

Mind Body Treatments to Ease RA Pain

Mind Body Treatments to Ease RA Pain

Science has established that using mind body treatments to ease RA pain can reduce the chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis. In my last post, we discussed how your brain processes chronic pain. Scientists have found that it is possible to change the way the brain perceives chronic pain using some mind body treatments.

Types of Mind Body Treatments to Ease RA Pain

The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine defines mind body treatments as: ” Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body and behavior and on the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual and behavioral factors can directly affect health.” (3) There are many mind body treatments to ease RA pain that may work for you. Here are some of the choices you have:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi– there is a Tai Chi DVD developed by Duke University and the Arthritis Foundation specifically for people with arthritis
  • Meditation is the most common  form of mind-body treatment treatment
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Qigong- using breathing to optimize the vital energy that flows through the body.
  • Cognitive-behavioral Therapy
  • Guided Visual Imagery
  • Spirituality
  • Virtual Reality
  • Tapping

Click on the underlined types of mind-body treatments to access more information in previous posts. Almost any quiet meditation-type treatment you choose can help.  As scientists understand more about how your brain works, they are becoming convinced that behavioral treatments can change your brain’s perception of pain, thereby reducing your RA pain. Guided imagery, for example, is now used in many hospitals and many hospice programs in the country to improve post surgical pain and to improve pain from chemotherapy.

Basically, your mind cannot distinguish between something that is real and something that is imagined so you can actually “trick” your brain into recognising pleasant feelings you imagine in stead of pain. I know some of us think this is impossible, but it has worked for many people.

More Science About Mind Body Treatments

Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine has developed a mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy that has been tested by Dr Rosenzweig at Drexel on 100 patients with chronic pain. These patients used meditation to achieve a measurable improvement in their pain and functional improvement. His study was published in 2010 in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Alex Zautra, et all published a Comparison of Cognitive Behavioral and Mindfulness Meditation Interventions on Adaptation on Rheumatoid Arthritis for Patients With and Without History of Depression in 2008.  They studied 144 patients with RA. They concluded that mindfulness therapy was most beneficial to RA patients who also had depression. (6)

How to Choose Which Treatments Will Help You

If you want to start by trying some simple mind-body treatments on your own at home you can choose one or more of the options below:

  • Listen to soothing music (many experts believe Bach or Handel are your best choices.)
  • Put together specific details for a soothing picture you want to imagine then concentrate on that picture for a short period of time. Gradually extend the time you spend focusing on that image. Try not to let your mind wander from that picture. Do not give up if it does not work the first time. Practice makes perfect
  • Go outside and sit quietly in a special comfortable spot like your garden and focus on the pleasure of being in peaceful surroundings.
  • Engage in an activity you enjoy like baking something special, knitting, etc.
  • Read a good mystery that will force you to concentrate on the story rather than your pain.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate on slow. deep breathing.
  • Go for a walk in the woods. Just moving reduces pain.

However, most experts believe that people with chronic pain are better served if they receive professional training on mind-body treatments.

  • Multicomponent mind-body interventions that include stress management, coping skills training, cognitive-behavioral interventions and relaxation therapy are most successful with chronic pain like RA pain. (3)
  • You can find trained professionals listed at Imagery International. These professionals are trained and certified in guided imagery.
  • The Academy for Guided Imagery trains professionals in guided imagery and provides links to professionals who have completed a 15-hour training course.

Basically, your mind cannot distinguish between something that is real and something that is imagined so why not “trick” your brain into recognising pleasant feelings in stead of pain? I know many of us think this is impossible, but there is a lot of scientific evidence that supports the theory that mind-body treatments should be an integral part of treatment for RA pain.

See below for access to more information on mind-body treatments to ease RA pain available at Amazon.

Disclosure: The Amazon Links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of the links and make a purchase, it will not increase your cost, but I will get a small commission.

A Guided Meditation to Help You With Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus

Self healing With Guided Imagery by Martin Rossman, MD

Tai Chi for Arthritis or Part Two Tai Chi for Arthritis

Yoga for Arthritis

Tapping to Relieve Pain

To Your Good Health,



  1. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/mind-body-pain-relief/meditation-eases-symptoms.php
  2. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/mind-body-pain-relief/mind-body-connection.php
  3. http://www.brainline.org/content/2009/06/mind-body-medicinean-overview_pageall.html
  4. http://www.jabfm.org/content/16/2/131.full
  5. http://www.healingchronicpain.org/introduction/conv_mndbdy
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18540734



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