To put it nicely, dealing with the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis flare up can be tough. RA is an autoimmune disease that affects the lining of the joints. The result is painful swelling that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.
Smaller joints are affected at first, like the ones in your hands and feet. As it progresses, it also can move to the knees, elbows, hips, and ankles. Pain management is often the most primary treated symptom. Managing the pain and limiting RA flare ups go hand and hand. A flare up is when the symptoms of a disease worsen. Some flare ups are unpredictable whereas others are caused by triggers like overexertion, stress, illness, and lack of sleep.
How to Limit Flare Ups
Working with your rheumatologist and finding the most effective treatment options for you essential in helping to avoid permanent joint damage. There are also things you can do outside of a doctor office to help limit RA flare ups. In addition to following your doctor’s treatment plan, you can:
- Stop smoking-Smoking has been shown to increase your risk of developing RA and can worsen your symptoms after you have it. Say no to even the social cigarette.
- Modify eating habits- Eliminate foods that are high in processed sugars, gluten, and dairy which can cause an inflammation. Talk to your doctor about medical foods. Medical foods are available by prescription, and meet nutritional needs that can help reduce inflammation, for example.
- Healthy weight- Extra weight adds more stress to already painful joints.
- Move every day- Get at least 15-20 mins of activity per day. Find an exercise regimen you like to do and is manageable for you. Swimming, recumbent bike, and elliptical are all easier on the joints.
Respect the Pain
Respect where your pain level is at and try to avoid overdoing it so your pain doesn’t get worse. Sitting for long periods of time, and doing repetitive movements are hard on the joints. Taking breaks every so often, using adaptive tools , and generally just putting thought into how to cut out unnecessary movements, can minimize the stress on your joints.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, clinical studies may be an option for you. New England Research Associates is working on new treatment options in managing this disease. Qualified candidates may receive study-related care and medication at no cost, as well as receive compensation for time and travel. To learn more, click HERE.