If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you’re probably all too familiar with the symptoms of a flare-up: agonizingly painful joints that are stiff and swollen, and fatigue so extreme that just getting out of bed becomes a monumental challenge. While there’s no cure for this autoimmune disorder, proper treatment can help. Here are some suggestions to help you find relief.
It may be tempting to to curl up on the couch when your rheumatoid arthritis starts acting up, but settling into a sedentary routine can actually hurt more than it helps. Staying fit is good for your general health but gentle exercise can help you manage flare-ups by lowering stress levels and keeping joints limber. Shoot for 150 minutes of low-impact, moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Stretching, walking, resistance training, swimming and other aquatic exercises are all great options to keep joint pain at bay. Don’t overdo it, though. Make sure to listen to your body — it will tell you when it’s time to take a break.
Take It Easy
Stress can aggravate your rheumatoid arthritis and contribute to flare-ups. Don’t let life’s little headaches make your achy joints worse. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, massage or even a nice long bath to help you minimize stress and manage your arthritis symptoms.
Catch Some Z’s
Don’t skimp on sleep. Not getting a good night’s rest can trigger a flare-up. The pain of a flare-up can in turn interfere with your ability to get comfortable at bedtime, leaving you exhausted and further exacerbating your rheumatoid arthritis.
Go for the Cold (or Hot)
When rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups leave you wincing, try a hot or cold compress to soothe inflammation. A store-bought ice pack or even a bag of frozen peas can help dull aches and pains. You can also try a warm bath or hot water bottle to loosen up stiff joints.