When rheumatoid arthritis flares up, it makes joints feel stiff and achy. That discomfort may go away at times, but there may still be permanent damage. Eventually rheumatoid arthritis can harm joints so they don't work as well even when the disease itself is not active. How does joint damage occur, and how can it be prevented?
Periods of active inflammation are called high disease activity. When joints are inflamed, white blood cells enter the joint space.
Inside the joint, these white blood cells...
1. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your destination and plan all the details you can ahead, including what places you'll go, how you'll get there, and what your travel companions can do when you need a rest.
2. Time it right. Choose a time when you are most likely to be feeling your best. If you are prone to flares during the heat of the summer or the hustle and bustle of the holidays, for example, try to avoid traveling during those times.
3. Don't rush. Although vacations can be fun and restful, they can also be stressful. Try to plan an extra day at the start of your vacation to prepare and another at the end to rest and recuperate before going back to work or regular activities.
4. Ask about immunizations. If you will be traveling overseas, ask your doctor about any immunizations you may need. Keep in mind that some immunizations are not advised if you are taking medications that suppress your immune system.
What to Pack
5. Select the right suitcase. Purchase a suitcase or carry-on with wheels, and push instead of pulling it. Use both hands. Doing so will conserve energy and avoid strain on your hands and shoulders.
6. Pack light. A lighter suitcase is easier to push -- and lift, if necessary. If you find that you must lift your suitcase -- into your car trunk or the overhead bin on a plane, for example -- find someone who can help.
7. Don't forget your health info. Write out a brief medical history and list of medications you take. Include contact information for your primary care doctor and rheumatologist, as well as your health insurance information.
8. Mind your medications. Pack more medicine than you think you will need and divide your medications among your different bags. If one bag is lost, you should still have enough medicine to get by. Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or family member. If you lose your medications or are gone longer than expected, have them fax you your prescription.