Joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis can make your life hell. Unfortunately, with this autoimmune disease, pain isn’t the only concern. Research shows that rheumatoid arthritis patients are more prone to depression than the general population.
Some people feel like their life is over when they’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but with the right approach you can reduce most of its effects and live an enjoyable life.
Besides following your doctor’s advice, below are strategies to help you cope with rheumatoid arthritis.
1. Avoid foods that trigger flare-ups.
The sad truth is rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups, which are usually associated with extreme pain, can occur even when you take the best precautionary measures. You can, however, reduce the possibility of occurrence by avoiding trigger foods. Avoid inflammatory foods, such as red meat, processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.
Some believe that nightshade veggies—like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants—worsen inflammation, but the arthritis foundation says that’s a myth.
2. Don’t stay in the same position for too long.
It’s not a good idea to sit for more than one hour nonstop. Get up and move after every 20 to 30 minutes. You might also want to move your feet often while sitting.
If you’re driving or typing, stretch your fingers after every 15 minutes.
3. Spend more time outdoors.
Getting outside and being around nature will lower your stress levels and blood pressure. Also, exposure to sunlight triggers the release of endorphins, which help reduce pain, according to research.
The last thing you want is to stay home all day. It will only worsen your mood and make you feel sick. Soak in nature’s health benefits instead.
4. Exercise more.
It’s true that rheumatoid arthritis can stop you from performing some exercises, but there are many low-impact exercises you can do to reduce the symptoms.
Research shows that aerobic exercises improve body function and quality of life among rheumatoid arthritis patients. Do exercises like jogging, swimming, walking, and yoga.
I should also remind you that regular exercise has been proven to ease depression.
5. Get enough rest.
While it’s important to be active, you need to set aside time to rest and relax. Resting will help reduce the fatigue usually associated with rheumatoid arthritis and prevent the occurrence of flare-ups. You may even want to ask for a few days off of work if you have flare-ups.
I’m not just talking about resting during the day. Be sure to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.
6. Get support.
Some people may feel that sharing their rheumatoid arthritis struggles is complaining, but it’s not. Most people understand this is a challenging condition, and they’re willing to listen and help.
Talk to your family and friends about your challenge,s and let them help if they offer to.
7. Use arthritis-friendly tools.
There are many tools specifically made for people with arthritis. For instance, ratcheted kitchen scissors can ease your work in the kitchen. Carrying tools can be handy when you go shopping since they allow you to carry bags without putting pressure on your fingers.
8. Use heat and cold therapy to ease the pain.
Using heat can help improve blood circulation and relax your tissues. Experiment with a heating pad to see if it reduces pain and stiffness.
Cold therapy, on the other hand, can reduce inflammation and pain. Place an ice pack on the swollen joint for about 15 minutes.
Do you know other ways to cope with rheumatoid arthritis? Share your strategies in the comments!
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