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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis — an article on the Smart Living Network
January 24, 2010 at 9:47 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that affects millions of Americans. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are things you can do to make living with the disease bearable.

Pain

The signature symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is pain. It's possible to manage pain effectively using over-the-counter pain medications, but be sure to speak with your health practitioner to design a safe and effective pain management program.

Fatigue

Another symptom commonly experienced by rheumatoid arthritis sufferers is fatigue. There are several steps you can take to reduce fatigue.

  • Get plenty of rest. This doesn't mean just getting enough sleep at night. You might also need to lay down and rest for several 10 or 15 minute periods throughout the day.
  • However, don't rest too much. Inactivity can make your joints more stiff.
  • Don't get overtired. Be sure to schedule rest time during the day.
  • Try not to worry too much about tasks like housework. You may not be able to do the same amount of housework as you used to. Have someone else perform these tasks for you.

Diet

A healthy balanced diet can help rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Avoid excess:

  • Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Make sure to get enough:
  • Fiber
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Fish and other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D

Since people with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to developing osteoporosis, getting enough vitamin D and calcium is vital to protect your bone health. You may also want to pursue natural healing methods to help alleviate your rheumatoid arthritis.

Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle will exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. It is therefore important to get enough exercise. There are many exercises that will maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and overall health without being too strenuous for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

  • Physical therapy may be recommended by your health practitioner.
  • If you have arthritis symptoms in your lower extremities, swimming is a fun and easy low-impact exercise that won't cause pain in your feet and legs.
  • If you have arthritic symptoms in your upper body, walking or bicycling is permissible.
  • Be sure to do plenty of stretching before exercise to avoid injury, and always talk to your health practitioner before beginning an exercise program.

Joint Protection

It is important to avoid further damage to joints by taking the following precautions:

  • Applying heat to the affected area
  • Hot baths after extended periods of sitting or sleeping may help alleviate joint stiffness.
  • Sleeping under an electric blanket can also reduce stiffness.
  • Warm wax baths can help alleviate pain and stiffness in the hands.
  • Use assistive devices
  • Splints, canes, or walkers can help increase mobility and decrease pain and joint damage.
  • Special kitchen tools and special doorknobs can also help protect your joints from undue stress.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/tc/rheumatoid-arthritis-living-with-rheumatoid-arthritis

http://www.ra.com/ra/rastore/cgi-bin/ProdSubEV_Cat_200148_SubCat_200148_NavRoot_301.htm

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