Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you’ve received a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, you may be overwhelmed with concern about how this autoimmune disorder will affect your life. You may have already been experiencing sore and swollen joints, stiffness, or fatigue, but as the condition progresses, it can affect a variety of your body’s tissues and organs, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Working with your physician and an occupational therapist can help you reduce or stop inflammation and even send the disease into remission. Your physician may prescribe medications to treat the symptoms, while others slow or stop the course of the disease.

Although there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, you and your physician can work together to manage it and reduce the affect it will have on your daily life.

As you manage RA with the help of your physician and specialists, there are some things you can do to make your daily routine a little easier.

Move around.

Sitting still for too long under any circumstances can leave you feeling stiff and uncomfortable, but RA can exacerbate these issues. 

If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, make sure you change positions and get up every 15 minutes or so to move around and stretch. If you are driving, writing, or using fine motor skills, don’t let your hands get too tense.

Try releasing your grip every so often. Soaking your hands in warm or cool water might help alleviate the joint pain.

Create a balance.

Maintaining your physical activity is important to your overall health, but moderation will keep you from facing exhaustion and soreness at the end of the day.

Regular exercise can boost your strength and flexibility, ease fatigue, and avoid depression, but make sure you take breaks throughout the day to rest, and don’t overdo it.

Low impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, or bicycling can be easier on your joints than more intense workouts.

Pay attention to your body.

If you start to feel pain beyond usual stiffness or soreness, evaluate your level of activity. The pain is a good indication that your body may be stressed, but making adjustments to your activity can be helpful.

Because RA can increase your risk for other diseases, including osteoporosis, carpel tunnel syndrome, infections, and heart and lung disease, it is important to communicate with your physician regularly and report any changes you notice.