Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis Effectively with These Tips
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects men, women and children of all ages. The cause of this condition is unknown and when the immune system continues to attack its own body tissues, the sufferer experiences severe joint pain, fevers, fatigue and other health problems. If you’ve been diagnosed with this disease, you’ll need to make some lifestyle changes and work hard to stay healthy to manage the pain, swelling of the joints and other problems.
Your physician can guide you through a rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan and discuss some of the latest drugs and treatment options available. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis can control their symptoms by taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic agents.
Identifying Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Identifying symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis is the first step to managing your disease effectively. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of RA include:
- Pain in the joints
- Joint swelling
- Puffy hands
- Weight loss
- Stiffness in the morning that usually lasts for several hours
- Bumps (nodules) under the skin on your arms
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must get in touch with your physician for a complete medical evaluation. This is a progressive condition, and may start with affecting smaller joints in the wrists, hands and ankles before moving to your shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.
Tips for Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis
In addition to seeing your doctor about your condition on a regular basis, there are several things you can do to manage the pain and emotional distress associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the best ways to manage your condition, include:
- Registering for a self-help program through the Arthritis Foundation
- Staying active so that you can strengthen your muscles and joints
- Educating friends and family members about rheumatoid arthritis
- Taking prescribed medications
- Balancing rest with activity
- Immobilizing sore joints and protecting joints whenever possible
- Getting emotional support to deal with depression and improve your mood
- Eating a diet that reduces inflammation
- Keeping up with all doctor visits
- Getting regular eye exams
Even though rheumatoid arthritis is an irreversible disease, there are several things you can do to manage the symptoms associated with the disease and improve your quality of life. Symptoms can flare up when your immune system isn’t functioning properly or when it’s compromised, and you may experience periods of remission followed by improvements in your health and overall mood.
It can be a very unpredictable and painful disease to live with, and working with a psychotherapist can help to improve your mental health and well-being. Support groups and certain types of medication can reduce your risk of depression and help you cope better when things get difficult.
Your physician can create a pain management plan and also provide advice on managing your symptoms and side effects of medication you are taking. Map out a strategy that works best for you so that you can enjoy a better quality of life when living with rheumatoid arthritis.