When your rheumatoid arthritis flares up, you're probably in no mood to start last-minute research on how to get relief. Check out treatment ideas now so you're ready to go when pain and stiffness strike.
Use Ice or Heat
They're classic remedies, and a lot of people swear by them. Put a cold compress or ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on your painful and swollen joint. Use the ice packs for 15 minutes at a time with 30-minute breaks in between.
Moist heat can help relax muscles and ease aches, pain, and stiffness. Wrap a warm towel or pad around the area that hurts. Or try a warm bath or shower.
Relax Your Muscles
Try a technique called "progressive muscle relaxation." To do this, tense or tighten one muscle group and then relax it. Take deep breaths as you do. Start at your feet. Move slowly up your body, ending with the muscles of your face.
Get More Sleep
When you don't get enough shut-eye, you not only feel tired, but your joints will hurt too.
To get a better night's sleep, go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Try to get some exercise every day. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. And don't forget to "unplug" your bedroom: Turn off TVs, computers, and phones.
If you still need more help, talk to your doctor.
Try Creams Made With Capsaicin
It's an ingredient in hot peppers. Studies show it can ease pain when you rub your joints with cream that's got some in it.
One thing to keep in mind, though: At first you may feel more pain, but then it usually eases up.
Keep Painkillers Handy
Some RA drugs help control your condition over the long run by reducing inflammation and joint damage. But when you have a flare of pain, you want relief right away. Talk to your doctor about how to be prepared.
Acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help do the job. Or you may need to call your doctor's office for another treatment.