3 Key Ways To Relieve and Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain, discomfort, and eventually joint damage if it progresses untreated. While RA should be formally diagnosed and treated by a specialist, here are some self-guided ways to help relieve and manage the symptoms of RA that you can do right at home:
A healthy, anti-inflammatory dietary approach can help reduce symptoms of RA. Suggested foods to incorporate into your diet are:
- Fresh, unprocessed plant foods that contain antioxidants such as:
- Cruciferous dark greens, kale and broccoli
- Colorful fruits like blueberries and blackberries
- Adding spices with anti-inflammatory properties to flavor your meals such as:
- turmeric, garlic, ginger, cayenne and cinnamon
- Incorporating fatty fish such as salmon as it contains healthy omega’s
- Drinking green tea as it contains polyphenols.
Reducing, or ideally eliminating, characteristic foods of the ‘Standard American Diet’ can also help reduce the inflammatory load. Suggestions to reduce or eliminate from your diet are:
- Trans fats
- Saturated fats
- Artificial ingredients
The role of supplements is to ‘fill in the gaps’ of nutrition – they are not meant as a replacement for healthy eating habits. That being said, supplements that contain the active ingredients of an anti-inflammatory diet can be helpful. Some examples are:
- Fish oil omega-3 fatty acids
- I3C (indole-3-carbinol)
- EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)
- Alpha-lipoic acid
Pharmacologic treatments should be strategized in a stepwise fashion that is decided together with your rheumatologist. This means selecting milder treatments for a milder condition, and escalating to stronger treatments for a more severe condition. Initial fast-acting treatments are typically oral or injection corticosteroids such as prednisone or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) and Biologics are used as ‘steroid sparing agents’ and are a more specific and targeted treatment for the disease. The ultimate goal is to reduce pain and swelling, improve range of motion and quality of life, and prevent disease progression which refers to joint space narrowing and erosions. Depending on the patient’s needs, sometimes DMARDs and Biologics may be combined for optimal results.
A Combination Strategy
Though there is no cure, the best strategy to approach RA or any rheumatic condition is a combination of a healthy lifestyle, diet, supplements, and pharmacologic treatments when appropriate. Including physical activity of any kind is also of benefit, such as aerobic exercise, weight and resistance training, stretching and flexibility. For those who already have an established baseline of physical fitness, anaerobic interval training is especially beneficial.
Relieve Your RA Symptoms Today
If you’d like help managing your RA symptoms, a rheumatologist can help you navigate your way to relief. Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Lomibao by calling our office or using our Request An Appointment form. Lomibao Rheumatology & Wellness Care is a full-service rheumatology clinic that wants to help relieve you of any pain you may be experiencing due to RA.