How to Cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition; it is going to be a part of every single day of your life. Because of this, it is important to learn how to live with the disease, and how to make the most out of every day despite it.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often do not eat a balanced diet. Difficulty moving around can make shopping and cooking daunting tasks. Despite this, it is very important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to eat a healthy diet. Better overall health can help make symptoms more manageable. In addition, those who have rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to get osteoporosis as a result of both the disease itself and many of the medications used to treat it. Therefore, be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D, preferably from food sources, although supplements are another possibility.
Exercise has been shown to alleviate some of the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It also helps maintain flexibility in the joints. Range-of-motion exercises, such as dance and Tai-Chi, work the body and all the joints through their full range of motion and can be adapted to fit individual needs and abilities. Strength training builds muscle and provides better support for aching joints. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis are frequently tired and fatigued; aerobic exercise increases metabolism and provides extra energy. No matter what style of exercise you choose, make sure to first consult with a physician or physical therapist to plan a work-out routine that can be incorporated into your life without causing additional pain or overtaxing you.
Rheumatoid arthritis is painful and tiring. Acknowledging this, and learning ways to deal with it, are important parts of the process. Don't try to overdo it. When something hurts, or you're too tired, rest for a while. Enlist help from family and friends with the more difficult tasks. That said, don't rest too much either. Staying active is key in preserving mobility. When the pain is especially bad, take frequent breaks, but don't stop moving entirely.
Building a Support Network
When dealing with something difficult and stressful, like rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to have a good social support network. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and who are willing to help can make a big difference in how you perceive and deal with the condition. Take some time to explain to family and friends about the condition. Many people don't realize the seriousness of this condition. Once they understand, they are often happy to help out when you can't deal with everything on your own.
Continuing to Work
The condition can make it difficult to work, and many people eventually wind up going on disability. In order to avoid this, look for ways to make work easier. Working from home is one option. Looking for a more flexible job that will allow you to work within your abilities is another. Consult a physical therapist to learn techniques for continuing the tasks essential to your job without stressing your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a difficult and painful condition to deal with. But with carefully planned changes in lifestyle, you can continue to enjoy all the things that matter in life for a long time to come.
Photo Credit: John Kannenberg