8 Ways to Live Well With Rheumatoid Arthritis


Chris Iliades, MD

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If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you know how painful, tiring and unpredictable the disease can be. There is no cure yet for RA, but there are many things you can do to live well. Early diagnosis, early treatment, and good management of RA can lead to long periods with no symptoms. Read up on eight ways to live well with RA.

1. Design your treatment plan. Take an active role in your treatment. Learn as much as you can about RA, and work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works best for you. There are many treatment options. You may need to change your treatment plan at different times through the course of the disease. Make sure you know what side effects to look for, and discuss all the risks and benefits with your doctor. Research shows that people who take an active role in their treatment have less pain, fewer doctor visits, and a better quality of life.

2. Learn about flares and complications. One of the reasons RA is so frustrating is that it is unpredictable. You may be feeling well for a time and then suddenly develop symptoms of pain, swelling and fatigue. These "flares" may mean you need to start or change treatment, so your doctor needs to know about them. Complications of RA can include heart, lung, skin, nerve and eye changes. Ask your doctor about possible complications, what to look for, and when to call the doctor's office.

3. Reduce your stress. Having RA is stressful, and added stress from other sources can make your RA worse. Stress is known to make pain more noticeable and it may also trigger an RA flare. Learn ways to recognize and reduce stress with exercise, meditation, a warm bath, or time with loved ones. Learn to listen to your body, stay positive, and be good to yourself.

Watch: Managing RA With Lifestyle