While arthritis itself is bad news, rheumatoid arthritis is even worse because it affects both sides of the body at the same time. As anyone who has the condition will tell you, RA will severely interfere with your lifestyle and turn every little movement of the affected joints into an extremely painful chore if left untreated. The good news is that you can manage the symptoms of RA nowadays with a combination of modern medicine and proper exercise. In case you or anyone close to you has been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and you are still in the process of figuring out how to manage it, the following tips should prove to be helpful.
Don’t Rest Too Much
It may seem counterintuitive at first, but arthritis will get worse if you spend too much time on the couch or the bed. While movement after long periods of rest will always be painful, regular exercise is necessary to prevent stiffness. There will be times when the inflammation will increase in intensity and you will need to accommodate for that by skipping the weight training and anything heavy duty for the time being. However, even during a break, it is advised that you practice other less intense forms of exercise such as yoga, light aerobics, stretches, etc.
Don’t Skip Your Meds
We are not only talking about taking the prescription meds when you are in pain but also the ones that your doctor instructed you to take, even when you are feeling better. It might be tempting to skip and save money when you start to feel better, but it isn’t advisable. Rheumatoid arthritis is kept at check only when the patient manages to maintain a certain amount of the medicinal compound (DMARDs and biologics) in their bloodstream. If you skip, the drug levels will drop and the pain will return. The good news is that a cheaper Humira alternative drug has already been approved by the FDA and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes available.
Studies have shown that there is indeed a link between smoking and an elevated chance of developing RA. If you are a smoker, quit as soon as you can because aside from increasing your risk of developing respiratory cancer, smoking can also make all those meds you are taking to treat the problem significantly less effective.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Apply ice packs to control the swelling and follow up with hot bag compressions for normalizing blood flow and bringing about muscle relaxation.
While these tips should help you to manage your condition better, there’s also a psychological aspect to rheumatoid arthritis that needs to be addressed. Mental stress is one of the main reasons why RA escalates, so it is important to learn how to manage stress, particularly if you are prone to anxiety in general. Talk to your doctor about stress management so that he/she can decide whether or not you need additional medication for that.
In general, though, it is definitely possible to control everyday life stress without resorting to prescription meds.