Rheumatoid Arthritis Ra Self Treatment

People living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or those who have been newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis might feel overwhelmed at the thought of living with a chronic disease. However, there are some simple steps you can take and changes you can make in you daily life to dramatically improve your quality of life and slow the progression of RA.

For example, by simply eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting exercise, you can greatly reduce your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Self-Care Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis

No matter if your rheumatoid arthritis is mild or severe, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life. Here are a few tips:

  • Chill Out: Applying cold to painful areas can reduce your RA pain and can decrease muscle spasms. You can apply cold to sore areas via cold packs, cold baths or showers or ice massages. However, don’t use cold to treat pain if you have poor circulation or experience numbness. To do so could damage your skin.
  • Get Regular Exercise: Exercise can loosen your joints and decrease your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, people suffering from RA must be careful that the type of exercise they do doesn’t harm their joints. Before beginning an exercise regimen, consult with your doctor or rheumatologist. People with RA often benefit from swimming or other low-impact exercises. You can also try stretching techniques, ride a bike, walk around your neighborhood or use an elliptical machine.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being even just slightly overweight can place unnecessary strain on your joints and can increase your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Make sure that your diet is rich in diets, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid foods high in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Relax: You can use relaxation techniques to reduce stress, loosen muscles and reduce RA symptoms. You can also use hypnosis, guided imagery and deep breathing to help control your RA pain.
  • Take Your Medication as Directed: When your doctor prescribes you medication, he or she will tell you how often and when you should take it. Following these directions is important, as skipping doses or taking more doses than necessary doesn’t allow your body to react to the medication properly. If you have problems remembering to take your medication, set an alarm to go off at the time of your next dose.
  • Use Heat: Heat can help reduce your pain, relax muscles and increase blood flow. You can apply heat to painful areas in many ways. For instance, you can take a hot shower or bath or sit in a sauna. You can also use a hot pack, an electric heating pad or a radiant heat lamp. However, if your have poor circulation or poor sensation in your skin, do not use heat treatment. To do so could cause skin damage.

Exercise Tips for People with RA

Here are a few types of exercises that can help alleviate your rheumatoid arthritis pain:

  • Cardiovascular Exercise: Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that uses the large muscles of the body in rhythmic, continuous motion. You get cardiovascular exercise when you walk, dance and swim, among other activities. Cardiovascular exercise helps your heart, lungs, muscles and blood vessels work more efficiently. It also helps keep your weight under control and gives you stronger bones. Try to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week.
  • Flexibility Exercises: Flexibility exercises help protect your joints by reducing the risk of joint injury. Good flexibility exercises that will improve your range of motion include tai chi and yoga. Try to get at least 15 minutes of flexibility exercises every day.
  • Strengthening Exercises: Strong muscles will reduce the amount of stress that is placed on your joints. To get your muscles and joints as strong as possible, do both isometric and isotonic exercises. Isometric exercises tighten muscles without moving your joints. Isotonic exercises strengthen the muscles by moving your joints. Try to do strengthening exercises every other day after doing your flexibility exercises.

Resources

Arthritis Foundation (2007). Self Treatment Center. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from the Arthritis Foundation Web site: http://www.arthritis.org/self-treatment.php.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2006). Rheumatoid arthritis: Self-care. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/DS00020/DSECTION=9.