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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis -- Treatment

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How Cognitive Therapy Can Help

Because one of the most trying aspects of rheumatoid arthritis is learning to live with pain, many doctors recommend pain management training. They may call it “cognitive therapy.”

The goal is to improve your emotional and psychological well-being as you develop ways to relax, handle stress, and pace yourself. For instance, it may include activity scheduling, guided imagery, relaxation, distraction, and creative problem-solving.

Exercise, Joint Pain, and Rheumatoid Arthritis

When your joints are stiff and painful, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. Yet with RA, exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do.

  • People who work out live longer, with or without rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Regular exercise can cut down on RA pain.
  • Your bones will be stronger. Thinning of the bones can be a problem with rheumatoid arthritis, especially if you need to take steroids.
  • Stronger muscles help you move better.
  • Your mood and energy level will benefit.

Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are some complementary medicine treatments that might help your RA. It’s a good idea to talk it over with your doctor. You’ll still need to take your medicine and keep up with the other parts of your treatment plan.

Heat and cold: Ice packs can reduce joint swelling and inflammation. Heat compresses relax muscles and stimulate blood flow.

Acupuncture: Studies show that acupuncture curbs pain, may lower the need for painkillers, and is good for flexibility in affected joints.

Mind/body therapy: Mind/body therapies can help with stress management, plus improve sleep and how you react to pain. Strategies include deep belly breathing, relaxing your muscles one by one from head to toe, visualization (such as picturing a calming scene), meditation, and tai chi.

Biofeedback: With biofeedback, you work with a therapist who helps you recognize when you feel tense and learn ways to calm yourself. This can help you handle pain.

Nutritional supplements: Keep in mind that even natural supplements can interact with medicines. So tell your doctor of all medicines and supplements you take. She can make sure they’re OK for you.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Several studies have shown that fish oil supplements may help reduce morning stiffness with RA.

Some studies show that borage seed oil along with anti-inflammatory painkillers can reduce RA symptoms. These studies show that in people with RA, joints were less tender and swollen after 6 weeks.

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