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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease caused by the swelling of the joints. It manifests as redness, pain, swelling and a burning sensation. While it can affect any joint, it is often concentrated in the hands and feet.
Do you or a family member have rheumatoid arthritis? Here are some tips that can help you better live with the disease.
Get some exercise
Physical activity is essential for overall health and is especially important for anyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Regular sports and exercise can alleviate and prevent pain; improve and maintain muscle strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility; help relieve symptoms; and strengthen the muscles around the afflicted joints. Choose activities that have a low impact on joints, like walking, swimming and cycling, and get advice from a physiotherapist or kinesiologist when you feel you need guidance.
Coddle the afflicted joints
Putting heat or cold on painful joints relieves the undesirable symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Heat relaxes the affected muscles and reduces joint pain and stiffness, while cold reduces swelling and inflammation, and relieves pain. When needed, don't hesitate to make use of orthopaedic devices and accessories, like a cane, a splint, or reachers and grabbers to pick up objects.
Make time to rest
Sometimes it's hard to schedule in down time, but rest gives your joints a break while helping to preserve your strength. Opt for relaxing activities like yoga, which lets you relax and move your body in a way that makes good use of your joints. Don't forget that periods of rest are as important to your recovery as periods of activity. Taking a break protects your joints, especially after doing repetitive movements. In theory, you should plan for one or two hours of total relaxation every day.
Every morning when you get up, take time to "lubricate" your joints by taking a hot bath or shower. Stiff joints tend to release with heat. Then, take advantage of the newfound looseness to move and stretch as best you can, using as much range of motion as possible. During the day, avoid overusing the afflicted joints. Stop and rest as soon as you feel any fatigue or pain and at night, sleep in a position that protects your joints.
This content is a paid advertorial. For more information about living with rheumatoid arthritis, please contact a qualified medical professional.