Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that can affect anyone at any stage of life. It can develop slowly, over a period of years, or it can strike suddenly. Regardless of the form it takes, the disease destroys the normal functioning of the body’s joints, causing severe pain and limiting everyday activities. The Arthritis Research & Therapy Center estimates that nearly 1.5 million people in the United States are currently living with rheumatoid arthritis. That number is likely to increase as the population continues to age.
Living with this disease means living with pain, fatigue, and inflammation, along with a whole host of other issues. It also means living with the possibility of recurrence, as the disease can come back at any time for various reasons. However, with proper management and a little bit of know-how, you can live a full and productive life with rheumatoid arthritis. The following are some helpful tips for those living with rheumatoid arthritis.
7 Tips for Living Successfully with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that targets and destroys your joints, causing severe pain and discomfort. While there’s no cure for RA, you can prevent or minimize flare-ups through medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to minimize joint stress and inflammation. If you have RA, here are seven tips to help you live more comfortably with this chronic condition.
1) Optimize Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Plan:
When rheumatoid arthritis strikes, a treatment plan will be created by your doctor and a variety of medications may be prescribed. You may also be given a list of lifestyle changes you should make to facilitate recovery. While many people can get by with minimal lifestyle changes, others may need to completely reorganize their daily schedule. The most important part of a treatment plan is finding the right medication for your body. It can take several months to find a proper balance, but once you do, many of the symptoms of the disease will subside and you’ll be able to resume normal activities with minimal pain.
Once you start taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important that you continue taking it as directed by your doctor. Medication levels can vary from person to person, so it’s important to closely monitor how the drug is affecting your body and adjust as necessary. Don’t forget about lifestyle changes—they’re just as important as medication! Even if medication manages to control the more painful aspects of rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll still have other issues such as fatigue and inflammation to deal with. Don’t neglect these things or you risk having flare-ups.
2) Get Creative with Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Management:
The most important thing you can do to live successfully with rheumatoid arthritis is to manage your disease as best you can. This means working with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you and sticking with it, even when things get tough. It also means being open-minded about new treatments and therapies that might help ease your symptoms or prevent recurrence of flare-ups. If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try something else, but always consult your doctor first before making any changes in your treatment plan. By doing so, you’ll not only feel better now, but you’ll lower your risk of developing long-term complications from rheumatoid arthritis.
3) Prioritize Sleep Quality and Quantity:
When you have rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most important things you need to do is get plenty of sleep. By getting enough sleep, you can reduce the pain and fatigue caused by the disease.
A study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews found that short sleep duration and poor sleep quality were associated with increased levels of pain and fatigue among those with rheumatoid arthritis. Sleep deprivation was also found to increase inflammation, which further worsens the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
As a result, it’s important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to prioritize obtaining sound, restful sleep by getting into a good sleeping routine and sticking to it each night. By doing so, you can significantly reduce your risk for over-the-counter medication use, as well as prescription medication use.
4) Incorporate Stress Management Techniques:
It’s no secret that stress can exacerbate chronic health problems. Stressful situations can cause the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that has a wide range of negative effects on the body, including increasing blood pressure, suppressing the immune system, and exacerbating pain. Stress also tends to make you feel fatigued and can even cause headaches. If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, it’s likely that your joints are already under a great deal of stress. It is therefore especially important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to practice stress management techniques that will help reduce the impact of their disease. These are some helpful tips for managing stress:
1. Meditate regularly
2. Take up yoga
3. Practice positive thinking
4. Find relaxation methods that work for you
5) Eat Mindfully:
Living with rheumatoid arthritis isn’t easy. When you have the disease, you suffer from chronic pain and fatigue, which can make even the most mundane tasks difficult to accomplish. Eating healthy foods is one way to combat the effects of the disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is high in antioxidants and vitamins, which will help you feel better and live healthier. In general, eating a lot of whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats will help keep your body strong. But a word of warning: don’t overdo it on the spices. Spices are wonderful for adding flavor to food and making it more interesting, but they can actually exacerbate joint pain when used in large quantities.
6) Get Help from RA Coach:
Drawing off decades of experience as a former sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis—as well as years of research into natural and alternative therapies—the RA Coach has grown into one of the most trusted resources around for those coping with rheumatoid arthritis. It helps users find everything they need to know about the disease in one convenient online location, including ways to cope with RA and get the most out of life despite it. With thousands of visitors monthly, the site has become the go-to source for information about dealing with RA and maintaining a high quality of life.
7) Avoid Triggering Factors:
Rheumatoid joints are constantly inflamed and sensitive, so it’s important to avoid things that make matters worse. These can include:
- Bending over and lifting heavy objects, especially if you’re already living with hand pain or wrist pain
- Extreme temperatures; cold, dry air or extreme heat can increase joint discomfort
- Sleeping in an awkward position; make sure your pillow isn’t too soft or too firm and keeps your wrists straight when you sleep
- Infections; if you’re sick with the flu or common cold, take extra precautions to decrease the pain of your inflamed joints
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to live comfortably with rheumatoid arthritis!