Surgery for Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief
Replacing damaged joints can be a welcome option for those suffering from the long-term damage of RA. Metal or plastic parts of the joints are placed in and the damaged part of the joint is removed.
This procedure can be highly successful in providing years of mobility. The most common joints that are replaced are the knees and hips, although other joints can be considered as well.
Hips and knees take the brunt of the damage in both OA and RA because they have the stressful job of bearing the majority of body weight. We’ll talk about this in greater detail when we talk about nutrition, but added body weight causes stress for your body, and stress is not your friend these days. Losing even 10 percent of your body weight can help ease inflammation in your body.
Self-Care and Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Prescription medication can be an integral part of your rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan, but there are many options you can explore to complement your RA treatment. There may be times you need to take a break from your prescription regimen due to illness, or if the medication needs to be changed because it was started to lose its effectiveness.
If you decide to add supplements or take anything over the counter to help your RA, be sure to consult with your doctor first. Even herbal medications or supplements can interact with prescriptions, so either ask your pharmacist or doctor before trying anything new that you plan to take orally.
Managing a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis brings a great deal of stress with it. This stress can affect every aspect of your life: your health, your relationships, your energy level, and your job. Many of the natural approaches to treating RA symptoms seek to serve as a stress reliever in addition to providing a reprieve from the pain, inflammation, swelling, and stiffness you live with every day.
Acupuncture, massage, talk therapy, exercise, and nutrition can be areas to explore on your RA journey. If you are unsure where to start, ask your doctor or rheumatologist for suggestions, or ask for recommendations from your friends.
Your rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan will most likely be a variety of some of these suggestions, and others won’t suit you for whatever reason, and that’s fine!
- Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into various pressure points around your body. The use of the needles is designed to provide a relaxed response, with days of increased mobility and flexibility. If you were interested in trying it but simply cannot be around needles, try looking for acupressure treatments. They can provide the same benefits by applying pressure instead of a needle.
- Massage should definitely be done by someone who is highly qualified in
treating people with arthritis. Massage can provide a much-needed endorphin release as well as work tight muscles brought on by stiffness and joint pain. That being said, some people find that massages are too uncomfortable, so you will have to do your homework to find one that matches your pain level.
- Therapy. Anxiety and depression can be brought on by managing a chronic illness day after day. Relationships can suffer, and you can find that you are frustrated about having to withdraw from activities that once gave you pleasure. Talking with a licensed therapist can provide a way to vent, or brainstorm new management techniques for your symptoms.
- Resting. One of the most challenging parts of managing arthritis of any kind involves walking the line between when to rest, which your body will need and will demand of you during a flare; and when to exercise, which is known to help ease RA symptoms and aid in managing stress. The best advice I can give with this is that exercise is supposed to be gentle. Gentle stretching, swimming, walking, yoga or dancing can provide immense benefits without you pushing yourself so hard you’re in bed for a few days after.
- Nutrition is as unique as arthritis. If you are looking at your diet to help treat your RA, you’ll want to aim for an anti-inflammatory diet. Talk with a nutritionist to make sure that you are getting the necessary nutrition you need and inform them of your diagnosis so they can help develop a rheumatoid arthritis diet with your needs in mind. What works for one person with RA may not work for another, and they will be able to work with you to ensure your nutritional needs are met during treatment.
Getting Through the Day
Daily tasks that were once completed quickly and easily may slow you down during an RA flare. From ways to manage around the house to how you can adapt to meet the demands of your job, you will start finding little ways to make your life easier.
Managing fatigue is a huge part of living with chronic illness, so you will need to prioritize what needs to get done first and which tasks can wait.
You will need to conserve your energy as much as you can, since doing things with limited mobility can take twice as long and leave you feeling exhausted. You may want to consider delegating tasks or asking for help. Many people find that asking for help or making certain accommodations a stressful task, and I was no different.
You will need to decide for yourself what you can do to make your daily life more successful without allowing the stress to overtake you.
- At home: use assistive tools like jar openers, lighter plates and cups, and a tool to grab things off high shelves instead of balancing on a chair; delegate or take turns with labor-intensive jobs like scrubbing, shoveling or lifting; carve out a space for your physical therapy exercises; consider the use of a cane or mobility scooter to aid with mobility.
- On the job: when driving, alternate pressure on hands; reduce commute or take public transportation when possible to cut down on driving; speak to your boss about any adaptations that you may need to do your job well; take frequent movement breaks, even if it’s just to stand up and stretch. Staying in one position for too long adds to the strain and inflammation in your joints.
Next page: More information on rheumatoid arthritis treatments.