Rheumatoid arthritis is more than just swollen and painful joints. For many Americans, this chronic inflammatory disorder affects everyday life and, in severe cases, can be debilitating. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many body systems such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. This happens when the body mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues, also known as an autoimmune disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, creating uncomfortable or painful swelling that may eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
If you’re worried you may have rheumatoid arthritis, signs and symptoms to look out for may include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite
When rheumatoid arthritis begins, it tends to affect small. joints first (i.e. the joints that attach fingers to the hands and toes to the feet.) It is important to seek a physician’s help when diagnosing possible rheumatoid arthritis. But here are some treatments you can try at home in addition to the prescribed medications- but make sure you get clearance from your doctor before making any major changes or decisions.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that exercise is a great way to treat many physical and mental ailments. For rheumatoid arthritis, it is particularly important. Exercise increases strength in muscles and mobility in joints. Staying stagnant for too long can have long term consequences when you have an autoimmune disease that targets the joints. However, it is important to practice low-impact exercise options such as yoga, walking, swimming, resistance training and water aerobics. If you’re not sure where to start, a physical therapist can get you started on the best options for your situation.
Fish Oil Supplements
While you may already practice taking a daily multivitamin, adding fish oil supplements to your diet can make a big difference in the treatment process. A 2018 research review stated that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, reduced rheumatoid arthritis disease activity markers and inflammation markers. Additionally, some research indicates that the use of fish oil could also help reduce inflammation and delay the need for medication.
Much like exercise, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that diet is a huge component of naturally treating rheumatoid arthritis. But you may not know where to start on a diet tailored to arthritis sufferers. Here are some essential foods to incorporate into your diet.
- Fatty Fish
- Whole grains
- Fruits and Veggies
- Peas and beans
- Olive oil
Thunder God Vine Supplements
Based in Eastern medicine, this root is found in China and Taiwan. It is important to consult your doctor before trying this, as it has many serious side effects. It is also important to allow a professional to assist because the wrong dosing for this can prove to very dangerous. Studies indicate that thunder god vine may assist in reducing inflammation and pain.
Heat and Cold
This may sound like a no-brainer, but heat and cold can be really important for pain and swelling management.
Heat: If you’re experiencing achy muscles, a warm bath or hot shower may soothe them. You can also apply a heating pad or a hot pack to help relax tense muscles and relieve pain and stiffness. Local heat application may reduce pain, stiffness, and general aches for arthritis.
Cold: Applying an ice pack or cold pack to joints can reduce swelling. It can also help in reducing pain and causing numbness in the joint areas. If you suffer from muscle spasms, a cold pack could also help ease them.
Ask your doctor or physical therapist for guidance on using heat and cold therapy
All of the treatments listed here can aid in the treatment and relief of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Research for this disease is ongoing and many more treatments (and hopefully a cure) could be discovered in the future. Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms or if you decide to use a home treatment method.