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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

How Can Rehabilitation Psychology Help Cope With Arthritis Pain?

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Dr. T SanthanamPsychologist • 34 Years Exp.PHD Psychology
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Arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes inflammation in one or more joints. The most common types of arthritis are – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Common symptoms of the disease include joint stiffness and pain that typically worsens with age.

Surgery and medication are usually recommended to treat arthritis and reduce its symptoms. However, for people with chronic illness or disability, routine tasks can be burdensome. Besides, dealing with emotional trauma may require extensive support and care. Rehabilitation Psychology can help you cope with this and speed up the recovery. This specialized branch of Psychology deals with the emotional and physical challenges a disabled person faces after an illness or an injury.

Role of Rehabilitation Psychology in Managing Arthritis

Rehabilitation Psychology uses unique techniques, such as the following to help arthritis patients who may be struggling every day to carry out tasks with efficacy.

Common methodologies used are –

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This talking therapy helps you deal with problems by altering the way you behave and think. It is used to treat mental health problems like depression and anxiety but can be useful in treating physical health issues as well – for example, arthritis.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy – Psychodynamic therapy assumes that chronic ailments, like arthritis, are rooted in the unconscious mind, and need to be addressed for catharsis to occur. The patient must be self-aware in order to discover these unconscious thought patterns and understand how these patterns came into being to be able to cope with them.

  • Occupational Therapy – OT helps individuals develop certain skills required for day-to-day activities. The therapist uses adaptive technologies for people to teach them how to go about and perform regular tasks without assistance. For instance – an arthritis patient may have difficulty bending or moving the joints of the knees while recuperating after a surgery. In OT, the therapist might give the individual a sock aid. 

  • Vocational Therapy – This is used in combination with physical or occupational therapy. It helps an individual with physical or mental ailment to resume productive employment.

The ultimate goal of psychological rehabilitation is to help patients with long-term health conditions and disabilities improve the quality of lives. It is concerned with all the factors that contribute to recovery and wellness from the care and support, they receive from friends and family to the relationship they share with the team of doctors. 


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