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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis -- Treatment

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Managing Daily Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Because one of the most trying aspects of rheumatoid arthritis is learning to live with pain, many doctors recommend pain management training. Cognitive therapy for pain management combines behavior modification with relaxation techniques. These programs focus on improving emotional and psychological well-being by teaching you how to relax and conduct daily activities at a realistic pace.

Learning to overcome mental stress and anxiety can be the key to coping with the physical limitations that may accompany chronic arthritis. Cognitive therapy may include various techniques for activity scheduling, guided imagery, relaxation, distraction, and creative problem-solving.

Exercise, Joint Pain, and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Not only can exercise help rheumatoid arthritis, it’s a vital part of rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

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

  • People who exercise live longer, with or without rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Regular exercise can actually reduce overall pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Exercise can keep bones strong. Thinning of the bones can be a problem with rheumatoid arthritis, especially if you need to take steroids. Exercise helps bones keep their strength.
  • Exercise maintains muscle strength.
  • Regular exercise improves functional ability and lets you do more for yourself.
  • People with rheumatoid arthritis who exercise feel better about themselves and are better able to cope with problems.

Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are a variety of alternative therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. Let your doctor know if you're considering them. 

Heat and cold: The use of heat and cold is one of the best natural treatments to help ease rheumatoid arthritis joint pain. Cold compresses reduce joint swelling and inflammation. Heat compresses relax muscles and stimulate blood flow.

Magnets: In people with osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, some preliminary studies have shown that magnets improved joint pain better than a placebo. However, it’s unclear if magnets might help rheumatoid arthritis.

Acupuncture: The National Institutes of Health considers acupuncture an additional alternative treatment for arthritis. Studies have shown that acupuncture helps reduce pain, may lower the need for painkillers, and can help increase flexibility in affected joints.

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