Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can be made easier, by changing your lifestyle. It simply means to prevent the disease from worsening, by taking proper diet and medication and staying active, as well as having plenty of rest. By doing these things, your symptoms are certainly relieved, and you find it comfortable to go with the disease. Adopting a healthy lifestyle also benefits to reduce the risk of heart disease, which rheumatoid arthritis patients are more prone to.

Pain, joint stiffness and fatigue are common with rheumatoid arthritis, which are worsened by certain activities, while certain activities improve them. You yourself can monitor it best and adopt yourself a plan to manage these symptoms. For this, you must educate yourself more and more about the disease and follow proper exercise, diet, assistive devices and other supports, which will enable you to stay active at the most.

It is important to discuss with your doctor about managing the symptoms, when they are the most severe. The doctor may arrange a physiotherapist or counselor for you who will help you find ways to reduce the symptoms.

There are high chances of developing osteoporosis in rheumatoid arthritis patients, due to the action of the disease itself, a reduced physical activity resulting from disabling pain and side effects caused by some treatments. You will have to increase the intake of calcium and vitamin D, in form of diet and supplements, to prevent osteoporosis. If you don’t take sufficient milk and dairy products, you need to take supplements. Some doctors start bisphosphonates, like alendronate and risedronate, to the patients for promoting bone formation.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis inevitably consists of fatigue and stress resulting from pain and limitations on activities. You have to take rest whenever needed and need not feel guilty, if you cannot do some tasks. Severe symptoms do require more amount of rest. Even sometimes you will need to rest for 15 minutes by lying down, several times a day. You can experiment till you come to balance the necessary daily activities with rest. You will also have to take care of not resting too much, as it will make the joints stiff and muscles weakened due to prolonged inactivity.

Heat therapy is seen to bring about significant relief in joint pain. You can adopt it by taking warm showers after prolonged sitting or sleeping, using a warm electric blanket while sleeping and giving hand joints warm wax baths.

To minimize the strain on aching joints, assistive devices, like a cane or crutch while walking, braces and splints, wheeled stools, carts and trash cans, that can be pushed rather than carried, doorknob extenders, elevated toilet seats, Velcro fasteners, tabs for zippers, molded handles of objects like kitchen gadgets, combs, etc. and electric appliances, should be used.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Though your particular joint problem may require specific exercises, it is definite that exercise is a must in rheumatoid arthritis, of whichever type you do. Studies have proven that both strength-training and weight-bearing exercises either improve, or at least, maintain the quality of life in RA patients, by reducing pain and improving function. As a general rule, swimming is good for the joint problems in lower extremities, i.e. in knees, feet and ankles, while walking and bicycling help when the joint pain is not in lower extremities.

Last but not the least is the importance of proper diet. A diet with less saturated fat, salt and cholesterol and high fibers and complex carbohydrates, in form of whole grains, veggies, fruits and beans, is a must for RA. Especially fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are proven to provide symptom relief in RA. So also, diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is necessary to cope up with the resulting complexities. These foods, help in weight-reduction, which too helps, because of reduced load on weight-bearing joints. Additionally, other foods too should be devoid of weight-gaining elements, like fats and sugar. If you plan your life in this way, living with rheumatoid arthritis will be no problem for you.