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    What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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    Why Are Rest and Exercise Important for RA?

    You need to be active, but you also have to pace yourself. During flare-ups, when joint inflammation gets worse, it’s best to rest the joints. Using a cane or joint splints can help during flare-ups.

    When joint inflammation gets better, you need to exercise to your keep joints flexible and to strengthen the muscles that surround them. Low-impact activities, such as brisk walking or swimming, and gentle stretching can help. You may want to work with a physical therapist at first.

    When Is Surgery Needed?

    When joint damage from the rheumatoid arthritis has become severe or pain is not controlled with drugs, surgery may help.

    Is There a Cure?

    Although there isn't a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early, aggressive treatment has been shown to help prevent disability and increase the chance to attain remission.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 14, 2015
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