So, you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Now what? It’s a common question asked by those who have been recently diagnosed with this condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory and autoimmune condition that causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and fatigue. The condition causes the body’s immune system to attack its joints. While the exact cause of RA is unknown, genetics, hormones, the environment, and abnormal immune functions may be partly to blame.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with RA, you may be wondering what to expect and whether any natural remedies can help with your symptoms.
Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis – What to Expect
Joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue are the most common symptoms of RA, and they can make it challenging to carry out a regular daily routine.
Here’s what to expect:
Stiff and Achy Joints in the Morning
It’s common for people with RA to wake up with stiff and achy joints in the morning. The fatigue can make it feel like you never get enough rest. The pain and aching can also keep you from getting a full night of sleep.
Some people with RA experience anxiety and depression, making it even more difficult to get through a daily routine.
Limited Activities During the Day
RA can make it difficult to do more than a handful of things during the day. Too much activity and not enough rest can cause more fatigue and pain. Those with RA often have to find the perfect balance of activity and rest to ensure they don’t overdo it.
Those with RA often go to sleep early in the evening. Busy days and stress can exacerbate fatigue.
It’s important to remember that each day with RA can be different. Some days will be better than others. Many people with this disorder will find that their symptoms ease as the day goes on.
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Managing RA is difficult but not impossible. In addition to your conventional doctor-prescribed treatment, there are natural remedies you can use to get some relief.
It’s important to make self-care a priority when you have RA. Make sure that you’re setting aside time for rest throughout the day. Try not to jam-pack your schedule. Balance is the key.
Find time to relax and give both your mind and body a break. Meditation, aromatherapy, or a warm bath can help you feel calmer. Stress can make the pain and stiffness worse, so do what you can to de-stress.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is often used as a natural remedy for inflammation and pain and is often used by people with rheumatoid arthritis. CBD is a compound found in cannabis (which includes hemp), but it doesn’t have psychoactive effects like THC.
In 2006, one study looked at the effects of cannabis-based medicine on RA. Along with reducing inflammation, the medication helped with pain and sleep.
A 2016 study found that CBD gel reduced joint pain and inflammation.
Topical CBD can provide some pain relief on stiff and aching joints. Best of all, it can be applied directly to the affected joints, and there's no need to worry about adverse side effects.
Other research has found that a twice-daily application of DMSO significantly reduced swelling in the front paws of mice with arthritis.
Heat therapy can do wonders for aching, stiff joints, and pain. Along with alleviating tension, heat can help you feel more relaxed and at ease.
Heating pads and blankets are one way to get some relief from RA symptoms, but you can also try:
- Hot showers and baths
- Sauna (with your doctor’s permission)
Taking a hot shower in the morning can help ease stiffness, making it easier to tackle the day ahead. Daily sauna sessions can further help keep pain at bay while allowing you to relax after a long day.
Many people with RA find that stretching in the mornings and evenings can help reduce their symptoms.
Regular stretching can help improve flexibility, prevent or reduce stiffness and even improve your range of motion.
Focus on stretching your:
If certain joints tend to be more painful than others, focus on stretching those areas regularly.
Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods
The foods that you eat can have an impact on your symptoms. They can either make the inflammation worse or reduce it. Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet may help with your symptoms or, at the very least, keep them from getting worse.
Foods that help fight inflammation include:
- Olive Oil
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Antioxidant-rich fruits like strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and oranges
Exercise can help keep your joints fluid and even help prevent pain. Movement is important, even if exercise is the last thing you feel like doing.
Cardio exercises can be especially helpful because they help improve circulation while keeping your heart healthy. Just avoid exercises that are hard on your joints, like running on pavement or a treadmill.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for RA. However, your prescribed treatment and the natural remedies above can help reduce your symptoms and allow you to lead as normal a life as possible.
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Don't let RA stand in your way. Take control back and get back to how life's supposed to be today!