You can still enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle when you have rheumatoid arthritis. It’s natural to feel angry, frustrated, afraid, and uncertain when you’ve been diagnosed with the disease. You wake up with your joints feeling stiff and painful every morning, and sometimes even the simplest chores like laundry and cooking become a challenge.
The good news is that it is possible to live a normal life with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Medication, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies can help you manage your condition.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is basically an autoimmune condition with the immune system attacking healthy tissues in the body which causes inflammation. It attacks the joints resulting in swelling, stiffness, and pain.
The exact cause of RA is unknown. Researchers theorize that it is a combination of genetics, hormones, and the environment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins gradually with the development of symptoms developing within weeks or months. Patients usually notice that one or several joints feel stiff after waking up in the morning. Others feel tenderness or pain in the affected joint during movement.
Other symptoms include:
- Warmth and redness on the affected joint
- Loss of appetite
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
There are over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen that can help manage the pain and discomfort brought about by RA. Doctors can also prescribe steroids and injections for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Aside from this, there are also natural RA treatments available that can make you feel better and slow down the progression of the disease.
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicine can help manage symptoms of RA. However, there are also natural remedies that can greatly contribute to improving the quality of your life with RA especially when they are paired with medication.
One of the most effective natural remedies to RA is by changing your lifestyle. These medicine-free initiatives can greatly reduce the discomfort of RA and help them live active life.
Acupuncture is part of ancient Chinese medicine and is used to manage rheumatoid arthritis pain.
According to research, the needles used on affected joints during acupuncture cause nerves to get activated. Patients feel a tingling electrical sensation that sends signals to the spinal cord and brain which in turn causes the body to release endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever.
Some models of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS machine have acupuncture modes that you can use to relieve RA symptoms. A TENS machine is commonly used in the management of soft tissue pain.
It works by sending non-invasive electrical pulses through the skin and nerves to provide drug-free pain relief. You can safely use and operate it at home whenever your joints feel painful, sore, or tender.
Massage with Home Devices
Massage is another home remedy to help ease RA symptoms. According to research conducted, participants experienced relief from pain and stiffness after 4 once-a-week moderate-pressure massage sessions performed on the affected arm. Patients were also reported to enjoy a stronger grip and a greater range of motion compared to patients who participated in light touch sessions.
Massage therapy and daily massage with a personal massager at home also lead to improved mood and sleep in many RA patients. Home massage devices blood circulation around the affected area which can reduce swelling and soreness.
According to Arthritis.org, a Mediterranean diet is the best diet for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables helps to control RA by reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Avoiding meat and leaning towards green foods also helps to control your weight which leads to less pressure on the joints.
Swap red meat with fatty fish like salmon and tuna, load up on whole grains, eat more peas, beans, and nuts, and include olive oil in your diet to help relieve RA symptoms.
Smoking makes RA worse because it makes inflammation worse. Smokers have a high level of cytokines, an inflammatory protein that plays a role in joint and organ damage caused by RA. Tobacco causes the release of all kinds of cytokines which leads to more severe RA. Studies also show that people who smoke have a higher risk of developing RA.
Aside from this, it also reduces the efficacy of RA medication. If you are a smoker and have RA, consult your doctor on how to quit smoking.
As discussed earlier, more weight on the joints causes pressure and in return more pain. If you have RA on your knees, for example, losing weight will take a lot of stress off your joints providing relief to the affected area.
Research suggests that patients who undergo weight counseling from healthcare professionals are 4 times more likely to attempt weight loss compared to those who do not receive counseling.
Obese people are also more at risk for developing RA and get disabled more quickly compared to those who are at a healthy weight.
Weight loss is a natural way to reduce RA and joint pain without drugs.
Wear Knee Support Devices
Wearing knee support devices can help ease pain and protect your mobility. A knee brace for example can keep your knees aligned and keep pressure off inside the knee. Most importantly it helps to relieve pain and keep it from giving out.
A knee massager can give your knees a deep tissue massage at home and can help relax your tense and sore muscles.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates can help relieve pain due to RA by strengthening joints and muscles. Both are low-impact exercises perfect for RA patients.
Patients who practice yoga and pilates are able to decompress and improve their flexibility and strength. Studies show that patients who practice yoga enjoy psychological and physical benefits like reduced pain, stress, and depression symptoms and better mental health.
Research also cited that 3 pilates sessions per week for 8 weeks helped to improve the quality of life and pain levels of patients with RA.