6 Life Hacks for Your Rheumatoid Arthritis
Know your meds. “A lot of people worry about the side effects of RA medications,” Husa says. The truth is, they can cause some problems, like a higher risk of infections.
But if you’re worried, don’t Google them. You could find scary and even misleading information, he says. Talk to your doctor instead. “Every time you start a new medication, you should have a good conversation with your doctor about what’s normal and what to expect,” Husa says. Even if you’re feeling good, don’t stop taking your medications or taper off your meds without your doctor’s OK and help.
Start warm and stay that way. Even if your meds have your RA under control, stiffness and pain can be an issue -- especially in the morning. Take a few minutes to stretch before you get out of bed. It’ll get your blood pumping and warm up your joints. Consider taking a warm shower or bath, too. Keep in mind that showers, baths, and heating pads are all helpful at any point in the day when you’re feeling achy, Husa says.
Move more often. Sitting or lying in the same position for long stretches of time can strain your joints and make stiffness worse. Take a short walk, or at least shift positions every 10 to 15 minutes, Husa says.
No matter how advanced your RA is or how tired you feel, “You should try to exercise most days,” Husa says. Physical activity can reduce inflammation, prevent RA-related joint damage, boost your energy, and help you function better all day long.
That doesn’t mean you need to log hours in the gym. Instead, do what you can in a way that feels good. If jogging hurts, take a walk. Or if long workouts leave you winded, aim for a few quick bursts during the day. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask a physical therapist who works with people that have RA. She can help you create a safe, effective workout.
Make rest a priority. You need to get quality sleep most nights to manage RA-related fatigue and keep your symptoms under control. But it’s just as important to rest throughout the day to preserve your energy.