The Spiritual Meaning of Arthritis


The Spiritual Meaning of Arthritis


Ask yourself questions about stiffness and resentment to get to the spiritual meaning of arthritis.

Did you know there are over 100 different variations of arthritis, and that this common condition affects people of all ages?

The most common types are degenerative, which includes osteoarthritis, and inflammatory, which includes rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The degenerative type is usually caused by wear and tear or injuries, while inflammatory arthritis is caused by an (often genetic) imbalance in the immune system, which attacks a person’s joints.

There is plenty of information out there on the medical and physical aspects of this common condition. But what is the spiritual meaning of arthritis?

The Spiritual Meaning of Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis basically means your joints have been under too much pressure over too long of a period of time. Usually this means that some cartilage or other protective barrier has worn away, causing the bones to rub together. This is what hurts. Considering a more spiritual meaning of arthritis, it's your body’s way of saying stop or slow down. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you have a form of degenerative arthritis:

  • What is my relationship like with my body in general?
  • Do I listen to my body when it says it wants or doesn’t want something?
  • Is something in my life happening too much, too hard, too often?

Degenerative forms of arthritis are often about mobility in a certain part of your body. The arthritis causes swelling and stiffness so that the joints can’t move as easily. The movement of the joints can be related to the expression of feelings. Consider where this is happening in your body and consider the following questions:

  • What does this stiffness allow me to do? Or not do?
  • What kinds of things do I usually do with the movement of this part of my body? How do I feel about that/those actions?
  • Is there a part of me that wants to slow down or stop doing something I’ve been doing?
  • Is there something I’m feeling that I am unable or unwilling to fully express?

Giving some space to these feelings can help bring the spiritual or energetic message out of the body and into the brain. There may be something you can do in your life to ease the pressure on these parts of your body, which may help calm the pain signals due to arthritis.

The Spiritual Meaning of Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis is an immune response that causes inflammation when the body attacks the joints as if they were foreign bodies. Again, the joints are about movement—mobility and expression. Energetically, inflammation means heat, which is often connected to anger or frustration. Here are some questions you can ask in search of the spiritual meaning of your inflammatory arthritis:

  • Are there ways in which I attack or sabotage myself? Am I my own worst enemy?
  • What emotions have I been holding myself back from expressing?
  • Is there anger, frustration, or resentment in my life?
  • Do I feel stuck, trapped, or prevented from moving forward in some way?
  • Am I reacting with “stiffness” when stress arises in my life? What if I were to move intuitively in my reactions rather than holding them back?

[Read: “Does Exercise Stress You Out? Try an Intuitive Movement Practice.”]

Inflammation can be helped by cooling practices such as deep calming breathing, spending time outside with your feet in the dirt, swimming in cool waters, or doing whatever practices allow you to slow down and move freely. In some cases, inflammation may be a response to trying to protect the “cool” emotion of sadness from arising, so there is an overabundance of the “hot” emotion of anger instead. Allowing some space for any unexpressed sadness to arise may go a long way toward helping the body rebalance itself.

There are many treatments that can help arthritis, but lifestyle changes that include stress management can be especially important for enjoying everyday life and activities and managing flare-ups. For insight into the spiritual meaning of arthritis, consider what your body would like to tell you about its experience. You may just get some interesting answers.

For more on joint pain, see your collection of content on managing chronic pain.


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