Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a daily challenge because of the pain, stiffness and fatigue that most people have to endure. Although the damage to the joints can cause their shape to become distorted, early treatment of the disease can help a sufferer cope with rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the amount of lasting harm caused to the affected joints. Some tips for living with rheumatoid arthritis include buying clothes and other products that will be easy to handle during flare-ups, such as pullover shirts and slip-on shoes, receiving the proper medical treatment and finding support from family members and others who are facing the same challenges.
RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s cells attack the lining of the joints of those suffering from the syndrome. It causes inflammation in the synovial fluid that fills each joint. It is a chronic condition that has no cure, but there can be long periods of time without a flare-up of the painful symptoms.
The small joints of the hands and feet are most commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Simple daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt or tying shoes become impossible because of the stiffness of the swollen joints. Anything that reduces the need to grasp small items will relieve the pain that the sufferer experiences on a daily basis.
One can prepare for such struggles by proactively buying pullover shirts and pants with elastic waists instead of zippers or buttons. Slip-on shoes are a good way to avoid the pain of trying to maneuver shoelaces into a knot. When living with rheumatoid arthritis, it might also be helpful for one to invest in larger doorknobs and over-sized kitchen appliances.
Traditional RA treatments focus on reducing the inflammation of the joints. Certain autoimmune drugs such as methotrexate or hydroxychloroquine are used to prevent the body's cells from attacking each other. Gold injections are often prescribed by doctors as an autoimmune defense, and they can be successful at reducing the amount of damage done to the joints. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also prescribed to help with the swelling and pain usually present when rheumatoid arthritis flares up.
Many people who are living with rheumatoid arthritis also live with debilitating fatigue. Some physicians might prescribe antidepressants to help regulate a person’s sleep cycle. Some antidepressants can even reduce the feeling of pain from the damaged joints.
Most rheumatologists will prescribe a joint mobility exercise plan. The goal of these exercise plans is not to lose weight or build muscle, but to strengthen and preserve the range of motion of each joint. Living with rheumatoid arthritis usually means that those afflicted will need the support of their families and the medical community to deal with the daily limitations that they face. Support groups and newsletters can be found with a quick search on the Internet. Some groups will send weekly emails or might have a forum available to put rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in contact with others that are facing the same struggles.