Do you protect your joints carefully?
Overusing a joint can trigger painful symptoms and cause more damage. You can help protect your joints in a few key ways.
- Maintain a healthy weight (lose a few pounds if you need to).
- Take advantage of adaptive devices like canes, special jar openers, and padded handles.
- Use good body mechanics -- use your largest joints when you lift, carry, or bend.
- Wear safety gear like knee and elbow pads or wrist guards when you play sports or do outdoor activities.
- Move your joints through their full range of motion. Use slow, gentle movements. And do specific exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your joints. You might ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist to get some help learning how to do this.
Do you take your medications on schedule?
It's so easy to forget, and yet taking your RA medications at the same time every day is the most important thing you can do to prevent a flare. A regular schedule helps you keep a constant, effective level of medication in your blood. Skipping doses can trigger a flare. So use a pill box, a calendar, or an alarm to help keep you on track.
If, despite everything, you feel a flare coming on, call your doctor right away. Your doctor may be able to tweak your medications to help keep RA symptoms during the flare under better control.