As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) never truly “goes away”. Someone who suffers from the condition will continue to do so throughout their life in the form of flare-ups that come and go. For some people, those flare-ups last a matter of days. For the unfortunate sufferers, they can last for weeks. During that time, you will suffer from swollen joints, pain in the joints, and allover fatigue. What many people don’t realize is that an attack in just a few joints will cause discomfort, pain, and fatigue all over the body.
No one completely understands why sufferers will have an RA attack and when. However, you can start noticing certain patterns. For example, the flare-ups could be caused by certain foods, certain types of stress, and even certain stages of life. Interestingly, women who are pregnant rarely suffer from an attack from RA. If you struggle with the condition, then you certainly want to know tips and tricks that will help you ease the symptoms and better be able to survive them when they attack.
Use Hot or Cold Treatment
When you have a flare-up in one or two specific joints, then one of your first steps will be to treat that joint in particular. Do your best to rest that joint throughout the day to avoid aggravating the inflammation. Additionally, use moist heat or cold packs off and on throughout the day. The best way to do this is to place a cold pack or ice on the joint for about 20 minutes at a time for up to two hours.
You actually have to find a balance between rest and exercise during an RA flare-up. You need to allow the joint to relax so that the inflammation can die down. However, exercise and stretching can help keep the muscles and joints supple. This will avoid painful stiffness. Keep the exercise at a minimal during this time. Simply try to move and stretch, especially the joints affected, a few times a day.
Eat the Right Foods
There are certain foods that will actually fight against inflammation. You definitely need to add them to your diet all the time, but especially during an RA flare-up. They include the following:
- Fish like salmon and tuna, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Extra virgin olive oil, which has enzymes that block inflammation
- Brazil nuts will help to fight inflammation through high amounts of selenium
- Onions also contain antioxidants that will fight inflammation
If you don’t particularly like fish, but you want to enjoy the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, then you can choose to add a fish oil supplement. Be sure to choose one that is coated to avoid a fishy aftertaste. Additionally, you need to avoid red meats, especially during an RA flare-up, because they can actually contribute to inflammation.
Get Enough Rest
It can be hard to sleep when you are having an attack because of the pain and discomfort, but sleep is vital to allowing your body to heal. You need to get as much sleep as possible at night. Additionally, it may be wise to take small cat naps throughout the day just to make sure you are not fatigued.
If nothing seems to be working, then the best thing you can do is distract yourself. Sometimes, just by keeping your mind on something else, you can ease the effects of RA. Try watching a movie, reading a good book, talking to a friend, or focusing on a work project. If you can better ease your RA symptoms, it will be much easier to live with the condition in the future.
About the Author:
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.