6 tips to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Self-care tips to relieve joint and muscle pain, reduce inflammation, and improve your ability to move.

Rheumatoid arthritis doesn't have a cure, but you can take steps to help manage its symptoms. These steps can help you relieve joint and muscle pain, reduce inflammation, and improve your overall ability to move.

  • Be physically active. Staying physically active is key to strengthening muscles and keeping joints flexible. It can also protect your joints from further damage. Regular exercise has been found to improve sleep quality, which is especially helpful if your rheumatoid arthritis makes it hard for you to sleep. Ask your physical or occupational therapist to recommend activities that are a good fit for you.
  • Use heat or cold therapy. Warm baths, showers, heating pads or bags that you heat up in the microwave can help ease pain and stiffness. For symptom flares, it's usually better to use cold packs to numb pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Support your joints. Splints can reduce pain and swelling by supporting your joints. Ask your physical or occupational therapist to help you choose and fit the right splint.
  • Use self-help devices. Zipper pulls, long-handled shoehorns, wheels on carts and suitcases, and other devices to help you get on and off of chairs, toilet seats and beds can reduce stress on your joints.
  • Take medication. Medications for rheumatoid arthritis can ease symptoms, reduce inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. But it's best to use medication along with other strategies. Ask your doctor if medication is right for you.
  • Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, avoiding tobacco smoke, using stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, and eating a healthy diet can all help control symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Sept. 15, 2020 See more In-depth