The idea behind rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to reduce current pain or other sensations that bring discomfort, improve limb and body function and prevent further damage to joints and tissues. This treatment doesn’t consist of only drugs and medications; to reach true effectiveness, various changes to the general lifestyle should be considered. These changes usually include increase in mobility and special exercises, diet and supplement adjustments, physical therapy, environmental and household changes. Before you buy arthritis drugs to alleviate the symptoms, consider other, more safe solutions in RA treatment.
In most cases patients with rheumatoid arthritis tend to avoid physical exercise and excess movement in order to prevent pain and possible worsening of the symptoms. It is true that the general advice is to try to avoid implying excess pressure on the afflicted joints, in both exercises and general daily activity, but it doesn’t mean you should stop moving completely. In fact, exercises aimed to carefully stretch and strengthen the joint tissues give a considerable positive impact on the overall effectiveness of the treatment. Doing even the basic exercises can prevent joint disfiguration and damage to the joint bone structure, while significantly reducing joint stiffness and pain. Note that in later stages of rheumatoid arthritis treatment physical exercises should be done very carefully and following a specific program to prevent accidental damage. Consult your physician to create a training and exercise program that suits you perfectly. Also, consider stress-reducing activities, such as yoga or tai chi.
Diet and Supplement Adjustments
It is usually a good idea to commit to a “healthy” diet lifestyle to increase the effectiveness of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Be sure to introduce more vegetables and fruit to your ration, to provide you with all the required vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E. Introduce more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, rapeseed oil, soybeans, and pumpkin seeds. If you are overweight, try to avoid fatty products such as red meat, cheese and fried foods. Loosing even several pounds will remove much of the strain from leg and foot joints, reducing pain and preventing joint damage. If you are unsure as to what diet will be best suited for your situation (in case of a digestive or metabolic disorder), you should consult your doctor for a personal meal plan.
For most patients, various applications of physical therapy are the best option to relief rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. These methods do not involve medications and are completely safe, and thus can be used whenever needed.
- Heating pads and Ice packs – heating will improve blood and fluid circulation, reducing stiffness, removing stress from muscles and speeding the natural recovery processes, while ice will reduce pain and inflammation.
- Water therapy – hot tubs, whirlpool baths, jacuzzis, mineral baths and common bathing and shower all help the body relax, improve blood circulation, clean the pores of the skin and improve natural regeneration processes.
- Massage – will help stimulate the muscles and ligaments you don’t normally use (or cannot use because of the disease), making movement easier and allowing instant relief from stiffness and rigidity of afflicted joint. Note that specific massage courses are advised for RA patients.
- Splints or Orthotics – these will provide additional support for the afflicted joint(s), helping to reduce stress and accidental damage when moving.
Environmental and Household Changes
Giving a thought as to what more can you do to improve your lifestyle while having rheumatoid arthritis can lead to major improvements in healthiness and treatment progression. The main idea is to look for things in your household or work environment (as well as in your own behavior) that induce excess stress on joints and produce unneeded exhaustion.
Here are some general tips that may improve your body’s overall performance:
- If you have to climb stairs to get to your bedroom (bathroom, kitchen, storage room) it might be a good idea to move it on the ground floor.
- Get plenty of sleep – a sound 8 to 9 hour sleep at night and a nap in the afternoon will help reduce the pressure on joints and recover from disease flare-ups. Avoid laying in one position for too long.
- If you require pain relief, and don’t want to use oral drugs, try to apply capsaicin cream on the affected joints on a daily basis. You should notice considerable improvement after 3 to 5 days.
- Make improvements to your home’s architecture to help you on your daily activities: install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet, as well as anywhere you feel you need extra support while standing or sitting down.
- Drink plenty of water. This will help improve metabolism and hopefully reduce the duration of flares.