Painful: Sufferers of arthritis could benefit from psychological intervention, according to experts
Arthritis sufferers could have their pain eased by learning to cope with the condition through counselling, scientists have claimed.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could help rheumatoid arthritis victims manage their pain by allowing them to control their debilitating symptoms.
Experts believe psychotherapy treatment works because it helps people focus on overcoming negative thoughts, which alter the way they feel.
A resulting positive outlook helps keep pain and adversity in context, allowing arthritis sufferers to cope with the condition.
The 104 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who took part in a recent study were selected for one of several treatments.
The study, carried out by Louise Sharpe from the University of Sydney and published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, compared CBT with its separate components of cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy.
Patients who took part were analysed at the start, post-treatment and six months later on, where disease activity, joint function, disability and psychological functioning were measured.
The results found that cognitive therapy, which involves identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behaviour and emotions, was an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and that behavioural therapy was not necessarily needed.
Widespread: Rheumatoid arthritis affects almost 700,000 Britons and is said to be more prevalent in women
Clare Jacklin, of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said the organisation 'welcomes psychological intervention for people living with rheumatoid arthritis'.
She told the Daily Express: 'Existing and emerging evidence suggests it (psychological intervention) plays an important role in patient care yet very few people with RA are offered such interventions.
'Those who are, often have to display symptoms of depression before any referral is made.
'Prevention is better than cure and we believe everyone with a diagnosis should be able to access psychological support and therapy as required.'
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