According to a study published in the May 2007 issue of Health Psychology, giving arthritis sufferers tools for coping with pain can help them feel, and function, better. The study was conducted by Dr. Francis J. Keefe of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina and his team.

It has been well-established that people with arthritis can develop disabilities that may lead to psychological problems, creating a vicious cycle. With this in mind, experts have developed programs to help arthritis sufferers cope with pain and disability using relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and strategies such as activity-rest cycling.

To evaluate the effectiveness of such programs, Keefe and his colleagues analyzed the results of 27 trials of psychological interventions for arthritis, which included a total of 3,409 participants. People who underwent skills training reported a modest reduction in pain, better ability to cope with pain, reductions in anxiety and depression, less psychological and physical disability, and even less joint swelling.

However, just a session or two was shown not to be enough to help individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. This was likely due to the fact that it takes time to develop the coping skills needed to moderate pain. Instead, the team found that the most effective programs included up to 12 or more sessions.

Article References
Counseling can improve arthritis pain, disability