Recent advances in drug therapy help to control pain and reduce joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Unfortunately, painful flare-ups are still a fact of living with RA and these episodes plaque many individuals. There are, however, several things that some individuals can do to reduce, and even prevent, pain. Here are seven simple tips to ease the pain of RA; remember to always discuss these and other strategies with your treating physician.
Exercise is a key component in preventing joint pain. Exercise can also give you more energy, improve your mood and sense of well being and help you sleep better at night.
Experts recommend exercise scheduled regularly three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. Walking, swimming and biking are best because they are low impact. Always check with your doctor to make sure your exercise plan is safe and appropriate for you.
Take a break, relax your mind, ease pain in your joints, and rest throughout the day when the opportunity presents itself. But although rest is always important, too much rest and a sedentary lifestyle can be harmful. Rest when you need it.
People with RA tend to feel stiffer in the morning than at other times of the day. Consider starting each day with a warm shower to loosen up your joints, and then stretch to loosen up for the rest of the day.
Assuming you are pain-free, try to stretch and loosen up your muscles and joints each day. A physical therapist is a good resource to help tailor a stretching program for your needs.
Protect your joints
Individuals with RA should always be thinking about their joints, even when doing small tasks in order to avoid potential problems. Consider sliding heavy objects instead of lifting them, hold books in the palm of your hand, and use your weight behind a shoulder to open a door instead of your hand. Think about how you can reduce stress to joints with all your activities.
Take a warm bath or shower
Heat can provide relief from RA pain and can be easily applied to effected joints in a warm bath, shower, or by simply soaking sore hands in warm water. Heating pads are also helpful and available at most pharmacies to provide temporary pain relief.
Consider trying hot wax
This is a technique used for many sports-related injuries. If you have pain in the joints of the hands or feet, a hot wax bath can ease inflammation. Hot wax baths can be found online or at drug stores, and may work better than a heating pad because the heat works its way completely around the fingers and toes.
Maintain an appropriate weight. Being overweight causes excessive stress on your weight-bearing joints like the knees, back, and hips and can accelerate joint damage and injury.
Please join the conversation on the theRAConnection and share your experience with these tips and let us know what else you have learned that helps manage the pain of RA.