6 Creative Ways to deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Coping with the pain and exhaustion of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be overwhelming – even with prescription medicine. Fortunately, strong medicine isn’t your only resource. Many people find relief with alternative remedies. Try these drug-free ways of dealing with rheumatoid arthritis.
6 Creative Ways to deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis
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1. Use that old-time religion. 

  • When 35 people with RA kept diaries for a study, researchers learned spirituality can be a key to coping with pain. The people who had daily spiritual experiences- such as being moved by the beauty of creation – were in better moods and had much less joint pain. These people were also more likely to have a support group to help them when things got rough.
  •  Don’t let the stress of RA keep you from tuning in to your spiritual side. Stay involved with a group of like-minded people, and your body could profit along with your spirit.

2. Intensify exercise. 

  • You’re probably tempted to baby your joints after an RA flare, but experts say you should do just the opposite. In a recent study, people hospitalized for RA were put on a program of muscle strengthening exercises five times a week and bicycle conditioning three times a week in addition to their usual range-of-motion exercises. 
  • After 24 weeks, the super exercisers had much better muscle strength and were functioning better physically. Ask your doctor about cranking up your exercise program. You might be capable of more than you think.

3. Keep moving.

  •  Have you been skipping your workouts because you’ll just have to quit when your RA flares? Keep up the workouts in between, experts say, and you’ll do better in the long run. Researchers found that people who backed off on exercise after they had a flare-up felt more upset about their disease and more limited by it as time went on. Stay tough mentally, and don’t let RA rob you of any activities without a fight. Even though you have to rest your joints during a flare, get back into action as soon as you are able.
  •  If you need direction and motivation, ask your doctor about physical therapy. In a recent study, people with moderate to severe RA had physical therapists come to their homes for six weeks to teach them about your exercise. Another group with similar symptoms did nothing different. After 12 weeks, the group that received physical therapy had fewer tender joints, less morning stiffness and better grip strength. And a follow-up a study has done a year later revealed that the results were long-lasting.

4. Indulge in a massage. 

  • Who wouldn’t enjoy a soothing rubdown? It can loosen tight muscles and help you relax – two things you need when you have RA. If you don’t have someone at home who can give you a massage, ask your doctor to recommend a professional. For a real treat, visit a day spa that offers massage.  You’ll feel pampered and renewed by the time you leave. Just be careful of joints that are painful or inflamed since massage can make them worse.

5. Get needled. 

  • Acupuncture, which has been around for a thousand years, requires a trained professional to place sterile needles in various parts of your body. Usually, the acupuncturist leaves them in for about 20 minutes. Acupressure is similar, but it’s done with pressure, not needles. Although the jury is still out on whether or not these practices work, many people claim they’ve gotten long-lasting relief.
  •  If you’d like to try something different, check with your doctor first, then find a licensed acupuncturist or acupressurist. With a little luck, you might even be able to find a medical doctor who performs this service.

6. Help yourself with herbs. 

  • Although using herbal supplements for RA is still controversial, some have been used for centuries with good results.
  • Bromelain is an enzyme that occurs naturally in pineapple. You can buy bromelain extract in capsules at health food stores and herb shops. The usual dosage is 400 to 600 mg three times a day.
  • Boswellia, also known as frankincense is used in India as a traditional remedy for rheumatic inflammation. It can slow down inflammation and increase blood supply to your joints. The usual dosage is 150 mg of the extract three times a day.
  • Tripterygium. This plant, used in China to treat autoimmune system diseases, is also known as “thunder god vine.” Studies show it works by partially blocking inflammation. In a 12-week study, people with RA and their doctors said they saw a significant improvement in the participants taking tripterygium compared with a sugar pill.

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