One important aspect of keeping yourself in tiptop shape is protecting your joints. Yes, your joints are meant to last for your entire life, but this doesn't mean that you can take them for granted. It's a must to protect them from any serious harm or damage, such as from rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) refers to the autoimmune disease that is characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissues around the joints, or the other organs of the body. Since it is a chronic illness, it can last for many years and can negatively affect a person's quality of life. In order to protect yourself from such disease for years to come, here are the things that you should keep in mind.
Lose Excess Weight
One of the first things that you have to do is to shed off those extra pounds. Being overweight puts too much pressure on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis in the knees, feet or hips is a lot more painful if you are overweight. According to some studies, having weight problems can also make it harder to bring the condition into remission.
Be Physically Active
Regular exercise doesn't only help in weight loss. It also helps prevent RA through several other ways.
- For one, regular exercise helps to keep the joints strong.
- It reduces stiffness and relieves fatigue.
- It also maintains proper functioning of the joints by strengthening the muscles that serve as their support.
- With regular exercise, you can also combat heart disease and diabetes that usually come with RA.
Just see to it that you choose the right exercises as the wrong workout can cause harm especially if you have fragile joints or have family history of RA. Go for exercises that place the least weight on the joints. These would include:
- other water sports
It would also be smart to consult your doctor who can help formulate an ideal exercise program.
Many studies reveal that smoking increases the risk of RA. And if you're a smoker and you already have this condition, treating it would be doubly more difficult. A study made in Sweden found that non-smokers with rheumatoid arthritis responded better to common treatments for this condition including methotrexate and TNF inhibitors than people who smoke and have RA.
Use Assistive Devices
Reducing stress on fragile or damaged joints can be achieved by using assistive devices. For example, if you have RA in the hip or knee, walking with the use of a cane puts 20 to 30 percent less pressure on the joint. This also improves stability. If you have RA in the joints of the hands, make use of devices that have thicker handles like pens, pencils and toothbrush to minimize stress when using these items.
Don't Put Excessive Strain On a Single Joint
It would also help a lot if you don't put excessive strain on a single joint. For example:
- Carry a shoulder bag or backpack instead of a handbag.
- Instead of holding grocery bags with your hands, carry them in your arms.
- Hold small items on your palms not with your fingers.
- Practice good posture when lifting objects.
- Don't bend your back. Instead, lower down your knees to reach for something.