When you're living with RA, there are days you feel OK, but you wouldn't call them "good days." You don't feel at the top of your game. Perhaps you're worried that a flare is just around the corner. With today's improved RA treatments, OK isn't good enough!
Are you getting regular checkups and seeing a specialist?
Even when your RA is less active, regular check-ins with your doctor are important. With RA, you should see your doctor 2 to 4 times a year to effectively manage your RA.
If you are not already seeing a rheumatologist, consider asking for a referral to one. Studies have shown that people with RA who see a rheumatologist regularly (several times a year) do better than people who don't. A rheumatologist specializes in the treatment of RA, and may be able to modify your treatment to help you feel even better.
Have you worked with a physical therapist or an occupational therapist?
Take advantage of these "OK" days to work with a physical or occupational therapist to strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility. 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.
If you haven't tried one, get a referral from your doctor. 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.
These slow, gentle, flowing exercises help increase balance and flexibility. They may even help reduce pain. Research by the Arthritis Foundation showed that yoga poses, breathing, and relaxation significantly reduce joint tenderness and swelling in some people with RA. Tai chi has been shown to help reduce chronic pain. Pilates strengthens your core, taking pressure off your joints.