When you have RA, there are some days you feel OK, but you wouldn't call them "good days." You don't feel at the top of your game. It might mean it’s time to take a fresh look at how you handle RA.
Do you get regular checkups and see a specialist?
Even when your RA is less active, regular visits with your doctor are important. With RA, you should see your doctor two to four times a year to effectively manage your RA.
If you are not already seeing a rheumatologist, consider asking for a referral to one. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis. She can review your treatment plan and see if it needs any tweaks. Studies show that people with RA who see a rheumatologist regularly (several times a year) do better than people who don't.
Do you work with a physical therapist or an occupational therapist?
Take advantage of these "OK" days to see a physical or occupational therapist to strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility. Your doctor can give you a referral.
The therapist can show you the safest ways to move your body for everyday tasks, like lifting a box, to help protect your joints. They can also teach you exercises to do at home safely. You want to build strength without overdoing it and triggering a flare.
An occupational therapist shows you ways to do specific tasks at home or at work. A physical therapist helps keep you moving, stronger, and more flexible. No matter which type of therapist you choose, it's best to see someone who has experience working with people who have arthritis.
Have you tried Pilates, tai chi, or yoga?
These slow, gentle, flowing exercises help increase balance and flexibility. They may even ease pain. Research by the Arthritis Foundation shows that yoga poses, breathing, and relaxation lower joint tenderness and swelling in some people with RA. Tai chi has been shown to reduce chronic pain. Pilates strengthens your core, taking pressure off your joints.
All of these exercises are good for your mind and your body. They can be meditative and they help your strength and balance. But perhaps their greatest benefit is that they reduce stress. Just having RA can be stressful. And stress itself can increase your sensation of pain. If you haven't already, try one of these mindful exercises to unwind and get stronger, all at the same time.