Tips On Home Care And Lifestyle Changes For Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA patients should try and maintain an active lifestyle by exercising regularly. They can prefer to do low impact exercises like regular walking, brisk walking, stretching, Tai Chi and yoga.
RA patients should follow an anti-inflammatory diet with more fruits and vegetables
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is referred to a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects your joints. It is an autoimmune disorder which makes your immune system mistakenly attack body's tissues. It is different from osteoarthritis, and affects the lining of your joints. RA causes swelling in joints which is quite painful. Under extreme circumstances and if it is not controlled in time with proper treatment, RA can lead to bone erosion and joint deformities. In this article, we are going to talk about how RA patients can take care of the condition at home.
Home care remedies and lifestyle changes for RA
We spoke to Dr Rajkiran Dudam, Rheumatologist at the Hyderabad Rheumatology Centre, who sheds light on some effective tips for managing RA at home. "RA patients should try and maintain an active lifestyle by exercising regularly. They can prefer to do low impact exercises like regular walking, brisk walking, stretching, Tai Chi and yoga. These exercises can help in maintaining muscle tone and improving range of motion in joints," says Dr Rajkiran.
He goes on to add that "regular exercise can help in easing stiffness that is caused by RA. Frequency and duration of exercise for RA patients will be different for everybody. Someone who got RA at the age of 30 will not be recommended the same exercises as the person who is diagnosed with it at the age of 50. Duration of exercise also depends on the personal capacity of the patient. RA patients should not strain too much while exercising. It may cause inflammation or may even damage joints. In general, at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise is recommended for all RA patients." RA patients should also try to do different kinds of workouts regularly. It is important to start with exercise slowly - beginning with low intensity, maintaining regularity and slowly increasing the duration and intensity of exercise for healthy management of RA.
According to Dr Rajkiran, "RA patients should follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Their diet should include more of fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants in foods like fish and black coffee can be beneficial for RA patients. Grilled, fried and barbecued meat should be avoided. These foods can increase inflammation in RA patients. They should also try to maintain a proper weight and maintain fitness".
Dr Dudam emphasised on the fact that RA patients do not experience the same severity of symptoms each day. Some days they may not have much pain and on other days, they may be in a lot of pain. "On the latter kind of days, I would advise that patients do minimum activity. They could do some stretching exercises."
Avoid smoking and alcohol
RA patients should strictly avoid smoking. "Smoking and passive smoking can worsen rheumatoid arthritis. RA patients must also avoid alcohol consumption as there are certain RA medicines that can cause problems in the body on coming in contact with alcohol", says Dr Rajkiran.
Regular exercise can help in easing stiffness that is caused by RA. Frequency and duration of exercise for RA patients will be different for everybody. Someone who got RA at the age of 30 will not be recommended the same exercises as the person who is diagnosed with it at the age of 50."
Dr. Rajkiran DudamSenior Consultant Rheumatologist, Hyderabad Rheumatology Centre, Hyderabad
People with rheumatoid arthritis must take sufficient rest on days they feel extreme pain. But, even at rest, RA patients should keep moving their joints regularly. "Complete rest increases risk of stiffness in the joints. This can lead to subsequent problems. Patients must always try to move their joints as much as possible. Staying active and moving helps RA patient live smoothly and pain free," informs Dr Dudam.
Cold and heat treatments
Rheumatoid arthritis usually leads to inflamed and tender joints. Dr Rajkiran recommends using cold compress as opposed to hot compress, which is better for degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Assistive devices are usually helpful when the rheumatoid arthritis has reached an advanced stage, the joints are quite damaged, or there are deformities in the fingers. In such cases, these assistive devices help in restoring original shape of the joints and easing pain. "RA can get better with medicines, when it is diagnosed and treated at an early age. It is only at a very later stage that assistive devices are required. These assistive devices are not easily available in Indian markets", says the doctor.
(Dr Rajkiran Dudam, MD, Hyderabad Rheumatology Centre)
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