Rheumatoid Arthritis: Dealing Day-to-Day

3. Get plenty of exercise and rest.

It can be emotionally devastating for people who can't maintain their prior exercise routine because of joint pain and stiffness from RA. If you have a routine of exercise or physical activity that is difficult to maintain because of RA, you might want to consider seeking out new activities that place less stress on your joints.

Be sure to consult your physician before beginning or changing any weight-loss or exercise program. A home exercise regime may be part of a physical or occupational therapy program that addresses strength, range of motion, flexibility and endurance. It's essential to get plenty of sleep as well. Rest can reduce inflammation from RA, whereas exercise relieves stiffness. Ask your healthcare provider if you should favor some types of exercises over others, especially for those times when symptoms are flaring up.

4. Learn what works best for you.

Some people with RA may respond favorably to pain medications, but others may derive little or no benefit. Exercise may lessen the effects of RA significantly for some patients but be less helpful for others. A number of people with the condition may lose a significant amount of strength and mobility in jointed areas, though others experience only intermittent flare-ups that subside relatively quickly.

It is difficult to predict how often and to what extent RA will affect you. Because the causes of the disease are not clearly understood, and because there is no standardized treatment, it is important to pay close attention to your body's response to different forms of treatment.

If a certain strategy or treatment plan proves effective for you, be vigilant about following it consistently. Likewise, if you find a particular course of action is not working very well, talk to your physician about what other options might be available. Staying on top of your treatment options and their effects can make a big difference in your quality of life.

5. Stay positive.

Blaming yourself for your condition is counterproductive. Whether or not you develop RA is largely beyond your control. You are going to need to keep a high amount of confidence and positive energy to live your life to the fullest. If you're having a particularly rough episode of RA, remember that millions of people battle that same condition every day and lead full, rich lives.

6. Let others help you.

Don't be afraid to ask family members and friends for help. No one can do it all, especially when battling the pain and stiffness of RA. Don't be afraid to delegate certain household chores or other tasks that cause you pain to your children or spouse. It's likely they will be happy to assist in any way they can.

Reviewed by Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA

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