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Rheumatoid arthritis shouldn't keep you from going out and doing the things you've always enjoyed. Whether it's shopping, eating out with friends, or going to a movie, you can do it. You may just need to tweak your plans and do a little more to prepare.

Going Out for the Day

  • Plan ahead. If you’re going on a day outing somewhere new, do some phone or online research so you know what to expect. If you have a walker or wheelchair, is the building easy to use? If walking is hard, ask how far it is from the parking lot to the door.
  • Be clear with your friends. Before you head out, be upfront about how your RA affects you. Ask your friends to be flexible. You may need to pare down the schedule a little and take time for breaks. Don’t keep mum and then overdo it, or you could risk a flare.
  • Start later. Mornings can be tough with RA, and it may take time for your stiff joints to loosen up. So when you can, plan outings for later in the morning. Don't rush yourself unless you really have to.
  • Get an aisle seat. Going to the movies? Sit by the aisle so you can stretch your legs.


  • Carry carefully. Carry shopping bags over your forearm. You'll spare the weaker joints in your fingers and wrist. Whenever possible, put your purchases in a backpack or bag with a shoulder or cross-body strap.
  • Come equipped. If shoulder pain makes it hard to reach high shelves, bring along a reacher -- a rod with a clamp at the end.
  • Don't be shy if you need help. If you're stressed or pooped, get help. Lots of stores have motorized scooters. Some have people on staff who can help you.

Dining Out

  • Bring your own. If RA affects your wrists and hands, it may be hard to lift heavy glasses or grip thin forks or knives. If that's a problem, bring your own fork, knife, and spoon with you. Ask for drinks in plastic or paper cups.
  • Take a chair. If RA in your hips makes it hard to sit, ask for a chair with arms. You'll have an easier time getting up and down. Stay out of booths, which could be difficult to manage.
  • Avoid having to cut food. If your hands and wrists hurt, see if the kitchen is willing to cut your food before it's served. You might be surprised by how many are. Or order something that doesn't need cutting, like a stir-fry or pasta.
  • Watch your alcohol. It's easy to lose track of drinks when you're out with friends. Just remember that if you're taking some RA medications, like methotrexate, you have to cut way down on alcohol or not drink at all.

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