Ask the Expert: Rheumatoid Personality?
Dear Dr. Borigini,
Years ago, when I was diagnosed at 16 years of age with JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis), two physicians told me that there was such a thing as the "rheumatoid personality." They hinted that there was a certain personality type that was more prone to develop RA. I understood them to mean that this was exclusive just to people with RA. However, they never elaborated on just exactly what a "rheumatoid personality" was. I know I have been a “nervous nellie” since birth but lots of people have anxieties and don’t have RA.
Is there any truth to this "rheumatoid personality?"
I do not believe there are certain personalities more prone to develop rheumatoid arthritis. In my practice I see patients from all walks of life, of many different races and from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds; they are all individuals who happen to have developed rheumatoid arthritis.
A study was published in the British Medical Journal back in 1971, and it concluded that differences in personality develop as a result of suffering from chronic arthritis. Personality does not predispose one to rheumatoid arthritis.
A rheumatoid arthritis patient must often cope with chronic pain, physical limitations, chronic fatigue, loss of abilities, and other health problems. Depression often results, and it is imperative that the treating doctor inquire as to the patient’s mental well being, and the patient should not hesitate to discuss his or her depression or feelings of helplessness. Counseling or intervention with one of the many anti-depressant drugs available could be just as important in a rheumatoid arthritis patient’s overall well being as the treatment of the arthritis.
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Mark Borigini is a doctor primarily located in Bethesda, MD, with another office in Downey, CA. He has 29 years of experience. His specialties include Rheumatology and Internal Medicine. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Pain Management and Osteoporosis.