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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing problem, but it doesn’t have to keep you from being active. You can help control it with exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to see your doctor as requested for checkups and lab work. At some point, your doctor may send you to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in arthritis and related diseases).

Woman doing water exercises in pool.

Follow a Healthy Lifestyle

While no one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis, these tips may help reduce your symptoms:

  • Find the right balance of rest and activity.

  • Learn ways to reduce or control stress.

  • Ask your family and friends for help with tasks.

  • Eat healthy foods.

  • Stay at your proper weight.

Start to Exercise

Gentle exercise can make it easier to use your joints. Keep the following in mind when you work out:

  • Choose exercises that improve joint motion and make your muscles stronger. Your doctor or a physical therapist may suggest a few.

  • Low-impact activities, such as walking, biking, or exercising in a warm pool, are good.

  • Don’t push yourself too hard at first. Slowly build up your endurance over time.

  • When pain and stiffness are really bad, cut back on your workout.

Use Special Tools

Even simple tasks can be hard to do when your joints hurt. The special tools and aids listed here can make things easier by reducing strain and protecting your joints. Ask your health care provider where to find these and other helpful tools:

  • Long-handled reachers and grabbers

  • Jar openers, two-handled cups, button threaders

  • Splints for your wrists or other joints

  • Large grips for pencils, garden tools, and other hand-held objects

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.