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And remember, no task is too small. They’re especially valuable to RA patients, who are said to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Walking, cycling, swimming, and light weight training done three times a week for 30 minutes are options, but check with your doctor to make sure they are safe, and know your limits. It is also associated with more severe symptoms and joint damage in those who have been diagnosed with the condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify problems in the way they think and act and encourages them to change their behavior, can be helpful if you have RA, especially if you are suffering from depression. Although the scientific evidence of arthritis-specific benefits is limited, it’s still recommended by the Arthritis Foundation.
A physical therapist or other physician can help tailor a stretching program for your needs. People with RA tend to feel stiffer in the morning than at other times of the day, so take a shower to warm up your joints, and then stretch to help loosen you up for the rest of the day. Research suggests that people with RA who drink alcohol may have less severe symptoms than those who do not. These approaches can include mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, breathing exercises, and guided relaxation. But if you enjoy eating meat, focus on getting more greens on your plate. The antioxidants, such as those found in green peas and broccoli, may protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.
Having a chronic illness can be isolating, but being open about your condition can help. Online and real-life support groups are great places to meet other people with RA and share coping strategies. On the flip side, avoid too much rest. A inactive lifestyle can be harmful, so intermingle rest periods with activity. Symptoms include blurred vision, pain, redness, and light sensitivity, but anti-inflammatory eye drops can help RA-related eye conditions. OT helps people live as independently and fully as possible, no matter what his or her age or condition.
An occupational therapist will work with you to identify problem areas in your daily life and figure out ways to eliminate them, or work around them. Another study reports that a program of long-term, high-intensity weight-bearing exercises improves the functional ability, physical capacity, and emotional status of people with rheumatoid arthritis. For example, some studies showed that vitamin E supplements reduce RA joint destruction and pain, while others do not. In addition, some RA patients take methotrexate to slow disease progression. But the drug also inhibits folic acid metabolism and causes a range of side effects. So make sure you read the fine print before taking vitamins regularly.