8 Life Hacks: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, like any autoimmune disease, can be tricky. There is tons of advice for people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but which ones actually work? Rheumatoid Arthritis is widely misunderstood, so finding the right tips and tricks that will work for your condition can be difficult.

Many people living with this condition make lifestyle changes along with taking medication to help manage rheumatoid arthritis. For example, reducing stress levels, taking part in low-intensity exercise, and identifying any dietary triggers.

Below are some life hacks for managing rheumatoid arthritis:

  1. Wake Up Slowly & Do Some Light Stretching

Joint stiffness is one of the most common symptoms of RA, especially first thing in the morning. Try setting your alarm a few minutes earlier and start to do some slow movements and stretches. Start by slowly rolling your shoulders and ankles or slowly bringing your knees to your chest to stretch the hips and knees.

These small stretches and movements will warm up your body before getting out of bed, making your morning routine just that little bit easier.

  1. Talk-to-text Is Your New BFF

RA usually affects small joints around your body first, like those in the hands/fingers and feet/toes. As we heavily rely on our phones and texting/emails as a source of quick communication, hands can become painful and stiff if overused for small movements like typing. Try downloading a talk-to-text app to help dictate your texts or emails for you.

If you have an iPhone, dictation is already built into the text feature, making it easier for you to cut down on picking up your phone and typing out every word. If you would like to know how to turn this feature on your phone, click here.

  1. Listen To What Your Body Needs

One of the best things you can do when living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is learning to listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t ignore the signs and signals of what your body is trying to tell you it needs. If you need a nap, take a nap. If you need to lay down and rest, lay down and rest.

Ignoring signs your body is giving you may lead to a flare-up in your condition, making your symptoms worse. Being in tune with your body can help avoid this in the future. Keeping a journal of how you feel daily and when flare-ups occur can be an excellent way to create a routine and avoid doing the things that trigger your body.

  1. Low-intensity Training and Walking

Getting regular exercise can be really beneficial for people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis as it helps build muscle and gain some flexibility. Exercise can also reduce fatigue and prevent muscle atrophy and decreased bone density. It can also help prevent heart disease and diabetes, which often develop alongside RA.

Movement is essential for keeping joint stiffness at bay, but there must be a balance. Pushing yourself too hard can cause more pain and stiffness, so it’s really about being in tune with your body and not pushing yourself to exhaustion.

Ideal low impact exercise includes:

– Walking 

– Using the elliptical machine 

– Pilates/Yoga

– Squats using weights 

– Stretching 

  1. Good Quality Sleep

Getting good quality sleep is vital for overall general health and especially for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately, due to the pain and discomfort caused by your condition, it can be challenging to get good quality sleep.

Developing good sleeping habits and behaviors that promote sleep and increase your chances of falling asleep more quickly can help reduce fatigue and help you feel better overall. Some things you can do to help promote good quality sleep include:

– Limiting screen time 2 hours before you go to bed 

– Having a set bedtime schedule 

– Journaling – helps break down the day, thoughts, and feelings 

– Showering or taking a bath 

– Being mindful of/reducing sugar intake before bed 

– Reading 

  1. Ask For Help When You Need It

A strong support system is crucial when suffering from chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, as depression and anxiety are commonly linked. Pain can impact your mood, but missing important events or plans due to symptoms can weigh heavily on your mental health. Having a professional to talk to can help sort through your feelings and give you the right tools to be able to cope.

However, don’t forget about your friends and family. Even if they don’t understand precisely what you are experiencing, they can be supportive and empathetic to your situation.

  1. Heat and Cold Helps to Relieve Pain

Temporary pain can be reduced by using a heating pad or even warm water – taking baths with Epsom salts can help alleviate pain and stiffness. Also, exposure to cold temperatures such as cold packs on your muscles after exercising can be super beneficial to reducing pain and inflammation.

There is also some research on Cryotherapy to reduce RA symptoms of inflammation, swelling, and pain. Click here to see the benefits of Cryotherapy.

  1. Identify Foods That Cause An Increase In Your Symptoms

No specific diet will cure RA, but many people find certain foods seem to connect to their flare-ups. Unfortunately, every person with RA has different triggers, so there are no specific foods that can be identified that increase or reduce inflammation tied with RA.

However, if you notice flare-ups continually happening after consuming certain foods, it might be a trigger for you. Tracking what you eat might help you figure out which foods to avoid in order to avoid a flare-up.

Using a journal to record what you eat and then evaluating your pain on a scale of one to ten at the end of each day may help you identify certain ingredients, which you can then gradually eliminate from your diet to see if it reduces the number of flares you have. But remember, always speak to your doctor or dietician before eliminating foods from your diet.


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