Is there anything I can do on my own to manage my rheumatoid arthritis?

Answers from April Chang-Miller, M.D.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the best thing you can do is follow your doctor's advice and take medications exactly as prescribed. You can also take steps at home to manage your pain and stay active:

  • Pay attention to your pain. Some soreness and stiffness is to be expected. But pain that lasts more than an hour after an activity or causes joint swelling indicates the activity was too stressful. Change your activity level or how you do a task to avoid making your pain worse.
  • Change position often. When writing, doing crafts or driving, release your grip every 10 to 15 minutes. When watching television or using the computer, get up and move around every 30 minutes.
  • Use the right tools. Look for tools and utensils designed for people with arthritis. Products such as anti-vibration gloves and large-diameter pens and kitchen utensils can reduce the pain caused by gripping or pinching movements.
  • Conserve energy. Balance periods of rest and activity during the day. Work at a steady, moderate pace with frequent short breaks. Stop and rest before you become too tired or sore.
  • Ease the ache. Soaking your hands or feet in warm or cool water may help relieve joint pain and stiffness. For some people, electrical stimulation provides temporary pain relief.

Of course, it's also important to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and be as physically active as you can. For more ideas about how to manage your joint pain, talk with your doctor.

Dec. 23, 2014 See more Expert Answers