Arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), can be managed with conventional treatments, medications, physiotherapy and, if necessary, surgery. But certain lifestyle changes and complementary approaches can help you live better with your arthritis. Some complementary approaches, which fall outside of conventional Western medicine, can provide additional relief.
- 1 Lifestyle changes, exercises to ease RA symptoms
- 2 Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
- 3 Tai chi and yoga to reduce RA symptoms
- 4 Omega-3, Turmeric and Coenzyme Q10 to Improve Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lifestyle changes, exercises to ease RA symptoms
Lifestyle changes and home treatments can reduce RA symptoms and improve joint function.
If you suffer from RA, it is important to stay active; if you don’t, you may experience increased joint instability, as the muscles around your joints weaken and your tendons and other soft tissues become inflamed. In fact, exercise is considered an essential aspect of RA treatment, and typically consists of flexibility, range of motion, aerobics, and strength training exercises. Physical activity should be balanced with rest, which can help reduce joint inflammation and associated symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling.
Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
To lessen flare-ups of inflammation, you can try using:
– thermal treatments, such as hot compresses or baths, to soothe stiff joints and tired muscles, or cold treatments for acute pain
– OTC topical ointment
– Specialized braces or splints that support the joints and allow them to rest
– Self-help devices, such as zipper pulls and long-handled shoe horns, to relieve joints during daily activities
It is also important to maintain a healthy emotional state. Although there is no evidence that stress by itself can cause rheumatoid arthritis, it can affect the severity of your symptoms and your pain.
Relaxation techniques, visualization exercises, Heart Coherence-type breathing, can help you deal with the inevitable stress of living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Tai chi and yoga to reduce RA symptoms
Tai chi, which is a low-impact form of exercise, appears to be safe for RA and does not exacerbate RA symptoms. Although tai chi does not reduce inflammation-related symptoms of RA, a November 2016 study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician found that the practice may provide some benefits for depression and anxiety, lung disease, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain, all of which people with RA can also experience.
Some individual studies have shown that yoga can help people with rheumatoid arthritis by improving physical function, increasing grip strength and reducing inflammation, including decreasing the number of tender and swollen joints. These studies have also shown that certain forms of yoga can reduce pain, disability and fatigue, and improve health, mood and quality of life.
And in an Indian study published in February 2019 in the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, researchers found that practicing yoga five days a week for two months can significantly reduce the severity of physical and psychological symptoms of RA.
If you decide to try yoga for RA, avoid Bikram yoga and other high-intensity forms of yoga.
Omega-3, Turmeric and Coenzyme Q10 to Improve Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is important to discuss dietary supplements with your doctor before starting them. Many dietary supplements have been proposed for the treatment of RA, and research suggests that some of them show promise.
Fish oil, for example, contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and studies have suggested this substance may help relieve tender joints and morning stiffness, reducing the need for anti-inflammatory drugs. . A study published in January 2017 in the journal Nutrients showed that marine oil supplements (all oils of marine origin, including those from whole fish) can help reduce pain in patients with RA.
Vegetable oils that can help alleviate symptoms
Vegetable oils, such as blackcurrant seed, evening primrose, and borage seed, may also be beneficial because they contain omega-6 fatty acids — especially gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. An article published in the Cochrane Review found that these oils, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, likely improve pain, may improve function, and probably do not increase adverse side effects in people with RA.
Research has shown that curcumin, a major active component of turmeric, also has anti-inflammatory properties that may make it useful for RA and many other conditions. A study published in August 2016 in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that there is scientific evidence that curcumin may help relieve RA. As curcumin is quickly eliminated from the body, several formulations exist on the market to increase its bioavailability, that is to say the amount of the substance that circulates in the body. Curcumin is generally safe, but as always, talk to your doctor before taking it.
Additionally, a study published in August 2019 in the journal Clinical Rheumatology found that coenzyme Q10, a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body and is also available as a supplement, may help reduce joint swelling and tenderness in patients people with RA.
Other natural substances are currently being studied: