8 Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions

Health Psychology


  1. Mary C. Davis PhD1,
  2. Heather M. Burke PhD2,
  3. Alex J. Zautra PhD1,
  4. Shannon Stark MA1

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop209008

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Davis, M. C., Burke, H. M., Zautra, A. J. and Stark, S. 2012. Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 9:III:8.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Arizona State University, Department of Psychology, Tempe, Arizona, USA

  2. 2

    University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions collectively represent the most common cause of disability in the United States. The widespread prevalence and disability associated with osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and fibromyalgia (FM) highlight the importance of identifying mechanisms that affect arthritis onset, course, and outcome. To understand the complexity of chronic pain, we apply a biopsychosocial model that simultaneously considers the role of biological, psychological, and social factors in the health and well-being of individuals with OA, RA, and FM. First, we review disease processes, common signs and symptoms, disease onset and course, demographic and risk factors, and genetic vulnerabilities. Second, we review the body's stress-sensitive systems, including how they may contribute to disease activity and outcomes. Third, we review sources of psychosocial resilience and vulnerability that may moderate the effects of stress. Finally, we review biomedical and empirically validated psychosocial treatments for these conditions and discuss several future directions in novel treatments.


  • chronic pain;
  • musculoskeletal pain;
  • stress;
  • resilience;
  • psychosocial factors