Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and inflammation. The disease affects many people across the world, and managing it can be challenging. However, there are ways to conquer Rheumatoid Arthritis. Below, we’ve summarized ten ways to help supplement your treatment.
Change Your Posture Regularly
Taking control of RA involves regularly moving your joints. If you do not do this, your muscles may become stiff and weak. When holding something like a pen, release the grip every few minutes. When doing repetitive chores such as gardening, get up and stretch your legs. Also, having a good back and foot posture is essential when working on your laptop.
Find the Right Equipment
There are many tools and equipment available for RA patients. Most of them are designed to protect your joints, relieving pain from daily chores. They include large drawer handles, rubber-like grips on utensils, and electric jar openers. Luckily, you don’t have to look for them in a specialty store. Items such as good grip pens and magnetized gadgets are readily available. Also, tap into technology with voice control to take advantage of hands-free mobility.
Heat to Treat Joint Stiffness
Do your joints feel stiff? Instead of always turning to drugs, find alternative ways to overcome morning stiffness. Heat treatments are essential to get you moving. A hot bath or shower relieves the pain of RA by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow. Likewise, you can buy a wet heating pad or a paraffin wax bath to ease joint pain. The heat not only relieves joint stiffness, but it also relaxes the tissues.
Rest is essential when your joints feel sore or stiff. It helps reduce both inflammation and fatigue. Alternate between rest and activity. If possible, plan your day in advance. Carry out most of your tasks when most energetic, and recharge in-between. Balancing activity and rest conserves your energy and protects your joints.
Cold Therapy for Acute Attacks
Cold therapy is ideal for acute attacks. It numbs painful areas, reducing inflammation. When using ice packs, place it indirectly on your skin. Use a piece of cloth that can protect your skin while still allowing the cold to pass through. To prevent frostbite, do not leave it in one area for more than 15 minutes.
Explore Mind-Body Treatment
Mind-body therapy incorporates both your body and mind. It is all about using your mind to improve the overall well-being of your body. The treatment recognizes that our thoughts affect our response to pain. Different techniques include insight meditation, rhythmic breathing, yoga, and guided imagery. Yoga, for example, focuses on relieving body pain and increasing body strength and flexibility. Training your mind and body alleviates pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Getting quality sleep can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. You can improve your sleep hygiene by practicing good habits such as going to bed and waking up at the same time even on the weekends, avoid drinking liquids 2 hours before bedtime or anything caffeinated after 12 noon, no TV or phone in the bedroom, or trying an orange light dimmer if reading or working around the house after dusk. Consistently practicing these good sleep hygiene habits is the best way to naturally stimulate melatonin, the hormone that balances your circadian rhythm.
Studies have shown that exercising boosts energy and mobility in RA patients. Above all, it reduces the symptoms of RA. Walking, cycling, stretching, or swimming for only 30 minutes a day is better than nothing. Tailor your fitness level and abilities based on any existing joint damage. Do not exercise when your joints are inflamed, and if you are in pain, take a break.
Regular exercise can also reduce the risk of getting other chronic illnesses. If you already have diabetes, being active can help manage it. Consult your doctor first for a go-ahead. A physiotherapist can help you design an exercise program that is right for you and your body.
Researchers have identified foods rich in antioxidants that help suppress and reduce inflammation. These foods include fish, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. A study found that vegetarians reported improvements in morning stiffness and grip strength. However, if you prefer eating meat, indulge in more vegetables.
If one maintains a balanced diet, two-thirds should consist of only fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The other one-third should contain low-fat protein. It is also critical to avoid foods that cause inflammation: fried and processed foods. A diet high in fiber can reduce the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is one of the two primary compounds used to measure inflammation in blood tests for RA. Remember to meet up with a qualified nutritionist to help you establish your ideal diet.
Protect your joints
Joint injuries, linked to sports or work, increase RA’s risk. They can worsen your arthritis. Therefore, opt for activities that are easy on your joints, such as walking or swimming. These low impact tasks pose a low risk of injury and do not twist or put extreme pressure on the joints. Also, take steps such as wearing protective gear to prevent joint injuries.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong inflammatory disease that you should consult your Rheumatologist about. In addition to taking your prescribed medication, practice the above strategies to follow a holistic approach to conquering rheumatoid arthritis.