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10 Things You Can Do for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Protect Your Joints

Even when you can't lie down and rest your whole body, you can rest and protect certain joints. Immobilizing a sore joint with a splint allows it to rest and may help reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you choose a splint and make sure that it fits properly.

Walking aids and self-help devices can also help you rest and protect sore joints. Canes and walkers reduce stress on painful knees and hips. Zipper pulls, long-handled shoe horns, and reachers make it easier to do daily activities without putting unnecessary stress on painful joints.

Get Emotional Support for Your RA

Coping with a chronic disease is never easy. Living with RA can be particularly difficult because it’s painful and highly unpredictable. You may feel fairly good one day and barely able to get out of bed the next. Joint pain and fatigue may make it hard to do some of the things you love.

It's understandable that you may feel down sometimes. But if these feelings are severe or long-lasting, ask for help.

Ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in working with people with arthritis or other chronic diseases. Counseling may help you develop the skills to cope better. Attending a support group, such as those offered by the Arthritis Foundation, may also help you feel better.

If you have feelings of depression, let your doctor know. Having a chronic illness increases your risk of depression. Some people find that treatments such as psychotherapy or medication improve their mood and sense of well-being so they are better able to cope with their disease.

Keep Up With All Doctor Appointments

Unfortunately, having rheumatoid arthritis doesn't make you immune to other health problems. In fact, the disease and medications you take for it may raise your risk of some conditions.

For example, if RA causes dry mouth or makes it difficult to brush and floss your teeth, frequent dental visits may help prevent gum problems and tooth decay. If you are taking medications such as corticosteroids or hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), which can affect your eyes, it's important to have eye exams, too.

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