How to Reduce Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis through Lifestyle Changes
Swollen, tender joints are hallmark signs of rheumatoid arthritis. Other unpleasant symptoms, such as feeling stiff in the morning and tired throughout the day, can worsen as the disease progresses. For many people, swelling and pain will begin in the smaller joints, such as the joints in the fingers and toes, but will then spread to other joints in the body as time goes by.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience increased severity in symptoms (flares) that come and go. Many people who have the disease believe that diet and other lifestyle changes play a role in the onset of some rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. The scientific evidence linking diet with symptoms of the disease are not conclusive, but any changes that you can make in your lifestyle to decrease symptoms will be worth the effort.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis and are overweight will benefit from shedding those extra pounds. The excess weight puts extra pressure on the joints of your body. For people with arthritis, extra weight can dramatically increase the severity of pain and swelling in the joints. Needless to say, maintaining a healthy weight will offer a number of additional health benefits.
Moderate exercise will relieve stiff joints and swelling. Even people who do not have rheumatoid arthritis, but who live sedentary lifestyles, will experience a greater amount of stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion than people who exercise regularly. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, it is very important to stay active in order to increase your strength, mobility, endurance, range of motion, and general health. While exercise may be the last thing that you feel like doing when you are experiencing pain, it is important to know that exercise has the potential to provide a considerable amount of pain relief. Stretching, yoga, resistance training, walking, training on an elliptical machine, and swimming are all low-impact exercises that are safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis to perform.
By consuming a healthy diet, you will be able to benefit from effective weight management. In addition, there are certain types of foods that several studies suggest help in reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good for joint health. Consuming an array of fruits and vegetables will help you to get the nutrients, including antioxidants, that are essential for maintaining the overall health of your body. Antioxidants assist in protecting against damage of the tissue surrounding the body’s joints.
Some studies suggest that food allergies may exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. If you find that your symptoms worsen when you consume certain foods, such as dairy, try an elimination diet. Experimenting with your diet will help you to determine what foods aggravate your symptoms and what foods help in managing your condition.
Stress can also intensify rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. If you are a high-stress person, take the time to discover what stress-reducing techniques work best for you. Deep breathing, yoga, guided imagery, muscle relaxation, and meditation are just a few relaxation techniques that you can try. Relaxation techniques such as yoga will help you to achieve your exercise goals while also learning how to cope with stress better.
If you are currently in a constant battle against the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel overwhelmed. Most importantly, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and to work toward gaining greater control of your symptoms. While you may not be able to completely eliminate all symptoms, you will be able to manage your symptoms so that you can live a much higher quality of life. Having a realistic sense of optimism and a positive attitude can go a long way in optimizing your overall health and well-being.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.