Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a leading cause of pain and disability in people worldwide. Millions of Americans suffer from RA and its associated health complications on every day basis. An inflammatory joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis not only leads to swollen, painful joints, but also makes it extremely difficult for you to perform even your most routine tasks with same strength and vigor.
While RA medication and over-the-counter pain-relieving gels can help you ease your symptoms and manage chronic arthritis pain, there’s a lot more that you can do to limit your pain and improve your condition. Here are seven self-management strategies that can help you expertly manage RA and the pain and discomfort that it brings along. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. Respect Your Joints
Remember, RA is a debilitating health condition and not a routine joint discomfort that would come and go. So, RA pains must be dealt seriously. Continuous activity despite the pain can severely affect and damage your joints. Also, completely forgoing the activity can lead to joint stiffness.
So, as a general rule:
- Keep moving your joints every now and then, but do not excessively strain them
- Indulge in light and moderate activities, like stretching and bending
- Wear proper shoes and other especially designed gears to support your joints and minimize the stress on them
2. Reduce Excessive Body Weight
Excess body weight puts strain on your body, especially on your hips, knees, and ankles, and losing weight is the golden ticket that can not only help you live well with rheumatoid arthritis, but can also significantly help relieve RA symptoms. Regular physical activity also boosts your energy, elevates your mood (by releasing endorphins or the feel-good hormones), relieves stress and strengthens your muscles and joints. So,
- Indulge in moderate physical activity every day, but only when your body permits
- Include stretching, light weight lifting and aerobic exercises in your daily routine
- Always perform exercises under expert supervision
- Speak to your primary care physician for dietary modifications to lose weight
3. Manage Your Stress
Stress leads to excessive inflammation in the body and exacerbates RA symptoms. So, to stay healthy and live a pain-free life, you must learn to conquer your stress. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is the first step towards health and happiness. Other than that
- Go for morning walks to breathe in some fresh air
- Practice meditation and yoga to calm your senses
- Indulge in a hobby to bring in that feel-good factor
- Socialize with friends and family
4. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Diet
People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should be very careful while building their plate, because there are certain foods that increase inflammation and lead to RA flare-ups, while there are other food products that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. So, people with RA should:
- Always make healthy food choices and limit highly processed foods and the ones that contain aspartame – ice cream, diet cola, gums and mints – as they trigger pain perception
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids – beans, legumes, green leafy vegetables and fruits. However, they should avoid ‘Nightshade’ vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, as they trigger rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups.
- Season their food with herbs and spices, including ginger and turmeric for the anti-inflammatory benefits
- Eat enough protein from lean meat varieties, fish, nuts and soya
- Take calcium regularly. Drink skimmed milk and eat low-fat cheese and yoghurt to maintain a healthy calcium level in the body
- Get more vitamin D in your diet. Eat salmon, eggs, and mushrooms on regular basis
5. Establish a Healthy Sleep Routine
A good night sleep is highly important for your physical and mental well-being. During sleep, your body’s repair and regeneration mechanism works at its best and repairs damaged tissues and degenerating bones, something that’s really important for people with RA. However, if constant pain and joint discomfort make it difficult for you to fall asleep,
- Try to establish a sleep routine – sleep and wake up at same time everyday
- Aim to sleep for at least 8 hours everyday
- Take a warm bath to relax your body, which can help you fall asleep quickly
- Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your body
- Ask your doctor for medicinal support to ensure a sound sleep
6. Plan Ahead, Always
RA makes even everyday tasks seem impossible to accomplish. So, to avoid unnecessary strain on your joints,
- Keep supplies well within your reach
- Eliminate clutter
- Keep your space clean and organized
- Start a little early to avoid unnecessary last-minute rush
- Use good body mechanics to minimize the stress on your joints.
7. Visit Your Doctor Regularly
In RA, each person experiences unique flare symptoms and severity. Only an expert primary care physician can analyze your condition, score out the range of disease progression, and determine the best treatment approaches. He can also evaluate if your RA is leading to other health complications and can provide you with the right medicinal support to prevent the adverse effects of RA on your joints as well as other parts of the body. So, visit your doctor regularly, as advised, and let him know about all the joint pains or any other new health complication that you might be experiencing.
Remember, RA is a chronic, progressive disease, and can only be managed through right medicinal assistance and lifestyle practices. At EPIC Health, we offer comprehensive assistance to help relieve RA pain and discomfort and forestall long-term joint damage. Our highly experienced and board-certified doctors use a variety of approaches to not only evaluate the severity of your condition, but also use various medicinal, dietary and physical therapy techniques to stop the disease progression and provide immediate relief from persistent RA pains, without the side effects.
Schedule an appointment with our expert primary care physicians today! We can help you live happy, healthy and better.