Effective ways to deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Effective ways to deal with Rheumatoid ArthritisRheumatoid arthritis is a painful and life changing disease, but it does not mean it should consume your entire life. There are many ways you can take control of it and reduce the symptoms, by making simple changes to your lifestyle.

Hot Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis
For someone with an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis, applying heat may seem counterproductive. Heat can actually reduce muscle tension and stimulate blood circulation. Many patients find applying something warm on their joints relieves pain. Everything from wearing warm clothes to taking a hot shower or lying with a heated blanket can make a difference. The warmth on the skin soothes the pain, while improving the range of motion.

One effective method of hot therapy is the wax bath, similar to what is used in nail salons to soften the skin and nails. You dip your hands in the heated wax to form a warm coating and then wrap your hands and wrists in a towel to reduce the pain and stiffness in your joints.

Most rheumatoid arthritis specialists recommend heat therapy for the hands when they are stiff, but not when the joints are inflamed. A good time to try it is when you wake up with morning stiffness. When the joints are acutely inflamed, it is more useful to use a cool temperature to decrease the swelling.

Cold Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

When your joints are inflamed, it makes sense that something cold would ease the inflammation and pain. Cold therapy has been proven to reduce swelling and soreness, as well as providing temporary relief of joint pain.

There are several different forms of effective cold therapy. There are many types of cold packs and cooling gels that you can place directly on an aching joint. Another simple method of cooling the joints is a soaking in a cool bath. Just make sure that you don’t let the water get so cold that you become chilled. There are also many over-the-counter cold sprays and ointments that relieve inflammation by numbing the nerves.

Essential oils for RA

Although the majority of people associate aromatherapy with relaxation, massage, and pleasant aromas, it can actually help heal many common ailments. Essential oils are one of nature’s oldest healing tools and they have been used in various health care professions for thousands of years.

Essential oils are highly effective at treating joint pain because they penetrate cells quickly. They provide the necessary oxygen, nutrients, and lipids that the affected joints need for relief from the inflammation. Some essential oils are heated to create soothing warmth and others are kept chilled for a cooling effect. Both methods can actually help your body rebuild damaged joints and restore its natural mobility and you can use whichever method works best for you.

Healthy Diet for RA

Studies have found that adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil can help reduce inflamed joints and improve flexibility. Research also suggests that cutting out red meat is necessary, since it can cause rheumatoid arthritis flare ups.

A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and soy can significantly reduce inflammation and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the stomach which will enhance your body’s immune system.

If you don’t want to change your diet completely, start by adding plenty of antioxidant-rich foods. During the process of inflammation, immune cells generate free radicals that may damage the tissue in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have noticed increased free radical activity and lower levels of antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta carotene, selenium) in the blood and joint fluid of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

The fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of vitamin C are citrus fruit, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers. Vitamin E rich foods include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and kale.

Foods with a significant amount of beta-carotene include dark green, oranges, carrots, sweet potato, kale, winter squash, spinach, apricots, peaches, mango and papaya. Selenium can be found in seafood, chicken, whole grains, nuts, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.

Stretching & Exercise for RA

During moments where the pain is not too bad or in remission, try to stretch all of your joints to the extent that it is not causing you any pain. People with rheumatoid arthritis usually feel stiffest in the morning, so to improve your mobility, take a long shower to warm up your joints and then stretch your hands, legs, and feet to loosen up your joints.

Exercise will stop joint pain from taking over your life. It can also give you an increase in energy and improve your overall mood. Walking, cycling, swimming, and light weight training done three or four times a week for 20-30 minutes can offer these benefits, but first check with your doctor to make sure they are safe for you to do.
Avoid running, heavy weights or exercises that are tough on your joints. Start with short periods of exercise and increase the length of you workouts once you know how it makes you feel afterwards. If you have pain that lasts for more than an hour after you finish, you have overdone it.

It is also not a good idea to exercise when your joints are inflamed. Make sure to take a break if you feel any pain or alternate positions if you are performing tasks on only one side of your body. I hope these tips will make living with rheumatoid arthritis more manageable!

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