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Rheumatoid Arthritis Tips

Rheumatoid Arthritis - How To Handle It?

Rheumatoid Arthritis - How To Handle It?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder which causes abnormal swelling of the body joints due to a sudden attack to the joints by the immune system of the body. This disorder is fairly common in the body parts that are more frequently used such as the knees, fingers, shoulders, wrists, elbows and the hips. Although rare, this disorder can also affect the ligaments or the tendons along with kidney, lungs, eyes or the heart.

This disorder tends to be chronic. Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, the loss of immunity generally leads to the disorder. Thus people who are obese, regular smokers, or who have had a family history of this condition are the most vulnerable to this disorder.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis are:

  1. Severe pain in the joints.
  2. Severe pain coupled with high fever.
  3. Stiffening and inflammation of the joints, resulting in intense pain.
  4. Exhaustion, fatigue and sudden weight loss.
  5. The pain gets aggravated in cold weather conditions.

Treatments

If rheumatoid arthritis is not treated immediately after diagnosis, it might cause further complications in the future such as lymphatic blood cancers, osteoporosis (a medical condition resulting in brittle and weak bones), blockage of the arteries and dry mouth syndrome (Xerostomia).

The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis includes:

  1. Prescribed dosage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, anti-rheumatoid drugs such as Methotrexate and steroidal drugs such as Prednisone help in reducing inflammation and pain. The dosage depends on the intensity of the condition.
  2. Performing regular exercises which will help you retain flexibility of the joints and subsequently cure rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. In extreme cases, the doctor might suggest surgeries such as:
    • Synovectomy: A surgery that removes the damaged portion of the joint
    • Joint fusion: This option will realign the joint and reduce the pain

Pain Management For Autoimmune Disorder Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Pain Management For Autoimmune Disorder Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It affects the joints as well as the skin, lungs, heart, eyes and blood vessels. This condition is most notorious for the pain and discomfort it causes in the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, it does not attack the cartilage but affects the lining of the joints.

This results in erosion of the bone tissue and can even cause deformities. There is no known cure for this condition and treatment is mostly focused on relieving the pain caused. Some of the ways to manage your pain are:

  1. Medication: Medication can help control the inflammation and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs are usually the first courses of treatment. These may be accompanied by steroids and help reduce inflammation. The best medication to relieve pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. In some cases, stronger pain relievers may be prescribed but these should be used cautiously. Excessive dependence on pain relievers can cause addiction.
  2. Change Your DietA diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids can help control inflammation. In turn, this can help relieve discomfort and slow the progression of the disease. Cold water fish and fish oil supplements are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. In addition, it is important to have a well-balanced diet and to avoid excessive carbs and sugars that can lead to weight gain. It is important to note that heavier people suffer from more pain as their weight puts pressure on the joints.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Rheumatoid arthritis makes movements difficult and hence exercising may seem counterintuitive but this can help in the long run. Avoid high-intensity workouts and pick low-intensity activities like walking, cycling, swimming, etc. Water aerobics is one of the best forms of exercise for rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga can also be very beneficial. Regular exercise is important but it is also important not to overdo it. Put exercising on hold during acute flare-ups and avoid doing anything that increases your pain. It is a good idea to consult a physical therapist to know what the best type of activity is for you.
  4. Hot and cold packs: Heat and cold therapy can help relieve pain immensely. A hot pack will help relax the muscles while the cold pack will numb the pain. Heat packs and cold packs can be used alternatively. Alternatively, you could soak the affected joint in hot water and cold water.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis - How To Diagnose It?

Rheumatoid Arthritis - How To Diagnose It?

Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic inflammatory arthritis with a prevalence of 0.5-1% in India. It is characterized by joint pain and swelling associated with morning stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes. It generally has a slow onset - over weeks to months, though the onset can be acute also. Most common joints involved are small joints of hands and feet. Larger joints like knee and shoulder can also be involved. The incidence of RA increases with age. It is twice more common in females than in males. Early treatment is necessary to bring down the inflammation, avoid joint deformities and prevent other complications ( lung, heart, vasculitis). 

CAUSE: 

Predisposition to RA is multifactorial. It has a genetic component (family history of RA increases the risk). Environmental factors like smoking also play a role. 

SYMPTOMS: 

Initial symptoms start with fatigue, malaise, generalised body aches, low-grade fever. The onset is generally slow and eventually patient develops joint pain and swelling. Though the joint involvement is symmetrical in most cases, asymmetric onset is common (involving joints predominantly on one side). 

DIAGNOSIS: 

Diagnosis is made by a physician after detailed history, clinical examination and supportive lab tests. Rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibody are positive in 75-80% patients with RA. They have raised inflammatory markers (ESR, CRP) during active inflammation. 

TREATMENT:

RA treatment options are wide and quite effective. It starts with patient education regarding the nature of the disease and the risk of complications. The need for early aggressive therapy should be emphasized. The patient should put in efforts for physiotherapy which play a very important role in muscle strength and joint mobility. Pharmacotherapy options are wide and include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs ( DMARDS). These can be conventional DMARDS like methotrexate ( usually the first line drug), sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide. Failure to adequately respond to these drugs should lead your Rheumatologist to consider Biologic DMARDS ( TNF antagonists, Rituximab, Abatacept, Tocilizumab). Your Rheumatologist is the best person to guide you about dose, indications, monitoring and side effects of the drugs used in RA. Treatment duration depends on the patient's response but is generally long ( 5-10 years or lifelong). 

COMPLICATIONS BEYOND JOINTS: 

RA patients can have rheumatoid nodules in the skin, lungs, heart and other sites. These patients are at risk of accelerated bone loss, so calcium and vitamin D intake should be optimized. Eye complications include dryness, redness ( scleritis and episcleritis) and certain eye threatening complications. Lung involvement can be seen in various forms ( fluid in lungs, nodules, interstitial lung disease). 

These patients are at high risk of atherosclerosis ( heart and blood vessel disease). They also have a tendency to have frequent infections. 

NEED OF THE HOUR: 

All patients with joint pains should be seen early by Rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment. With so many treatment options, no patient should suffer from joint deformities and other complications associated with long-standing, untreated RA. LEAD A HEALTHY LIFE! 

Importance Of Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Importance Of Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic inflammatory arthritis with a prevalence of 0.5-1% in India. It is characterized by joint pain and swelling associated with morning stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes. It generally has a slow onset - over weeks to months, though the onset can be acute also. Most common joints involved are small joints of hands and feet. Larger joints like knee and shoulder can also be involved. The incidence of RA increases with age. It is twice more common in females than in males. Early treatment is necessary to bring down the inflammation, avoid joint deformities and prevent other complications ( lung, heart, vasculitis). 

CAUSE: 

Predisposition to RA is multifactorial. It has a genetic component (family history of RA increases the risk). Environmental factors like smoking also play a role. 

SYMPTOMS: 

Initial symptoms start with fatigue, malaise, generalised body aches, low-grade fever. The onset is generally slow and eventually the patient develops joint pain and swelling. Though the joint involvement is symmetrical in most cases, asymmetric onset is common (involving joints predominantly on one side). 

DIAGNOSIS: 

Diagnosis is made by a physician after detailed history, clinical examination and supportive lab tests. Rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibody are positive in 75-80% of patients with RA. They have raised inflammatory markers (ESR, CRP) during active inflammation. 

TREATMENT:

RA treatment options are wide and quite effective. It starts with patient education regarding the nature of the disease and the risk of complications. The need for early aggressive therapy should be emphasized. The patient should put in efforts for physiotherapy which play a very important role in muscle strength and joint mobility. Pharmacotherapy options are wide and include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs ( DMARDs). These can be conventional DMARDs like methotrexate ( usually the first line drug), sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, leflunomide. Failure to adequately respond to these drugs should lead your Rheumatologist to consider Biologic DMARDs ( TNF antagonists, Rituximab, Abatacept, Tocilizumab). Your Rheumatologist is the best person to guide you about dose, indications, monitoring and side effects of the drugs used in RA. Treatment duration depends on the patient's response but is generally long ( 5-10 years or lifelong). 

COMPLICATIONS BEYOND JOINTS: 

RA patients can have rheumatoid nodules in skin, lungs, heart and other sites. These patients are at risk of accelerated bone loss, so calcium and vitamin D intake should be optimized. Eye complications include dryness, redness ( scleritis and episcleritis) and certain eye threatening complications. Lung involvement can be seen in various forms ( fluid in lungs, nodules, interstitial lung disease). 

These patients are at high risk of atherosclerosis ( heart and blood vessel disease). They also have a tendency to have frequent infections. 

NEED OF THE HOUR: 

All patients with joint pains should be seen early by Rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment. With so many treatment options, no patient should suffer from joint deformities and other complications associated with long-standing, untreated RA. LEAD A HEALTHY LIFE! 

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Know More About Diagnosis & Cure Of Arthritis!

Know More About Diagnosis & Cure Of Arthritis!

Arthritis refers to extreme joint pain. It could either manifest in one of the joints in the body or more than one. At times, it occurs because of a vitamin deficiency. However, it can also advance with age. This is how arthritis can be easily diagnosed:

To diagnose arthritis, your specialist will consider the side effects and symptoms. They will then take a physical exam to check for swollen joints or loss of movement.

They will then use blood tests and X-ray to affirm the conclusion. X-ray and blood tests help in identifying the sort of arthritis you have. For instance, a great many people with rheumatoid arthritis have antibodies called rheumatoid components (RF) in their blood. X-rays are used to analyze osteoarthritis, normally uncovering lost ligament, bone deformities and in many extreme cases, a bone rubbing against another bone.

Sometimes, a needle is used to draw a little specimen of liquid from the joint for testing. This is done to eliminate different sorts of arthritis. In case your specialist speculates irresistible arthritis as a confusion of some other sickness, taking a sample of liquid from the influenced joint will typically affirm the finding and decide how it will be dealt with.

Depending on what kind of arthritis you have, your doctor will recommend you different therapies. However, some of the most common treatments for arthritis are as follows: 

Occupational Therapy-

  1. Certain therapies involve long-term treatment to treat the affected joint. With the assistance of an occupational therapist, you can learn simpler approaches to do your typical exercises. A therapist can show you how to do the following:
  2. Maintain a strategic distance from positions that strain your joints.
  3. Utilize your most healthy joints and muscles while saving weaker ones.
  4. Use props to support certain joints.

Medication-
Joint pain treatment will rely upon the nature and level of the condition. The principal objectives are to diminish aggravation and enhance the capacity of the influenced joints before the condition worsens. Your specialist will most likely recommend acetaminophen or a non-steroidal mitigating drug (NSAID), for example, Aleve.

Surgery-
Different types of surgeries might be expected to lessen the inconvenience of joint inflammation or to recover the joint capacity. Synovectomy is the expulsion of a harmed connective tissue coating a joint depression. In case that ligament pain and irritation turn out to be genuinely chronic, or ligament joints turn out to be badly damaged, the answer may lie in surgical substitution.

Non-medical management of arthritis pain:
Besides medicine-based treatment for arthritis, there are many psychotherapeutic techniques to manage the same. Enhancing patients’ mental state by showing them how to unwind and perform their everyday exercises at a sensible pace will also help in finding a way to defeat mental anxiety and nervousness.

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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis - An Overview!

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis - An Overview!

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a commonly occurring arthritis in children under the age of 15. Some common problems that are faced by patients with this disease include stiffness, joint pain, and swelling. While the symptoms might persist for a few months for some patients, for others it might continue for the rest of their lives. Patients might face serious complications such as inflammation of the eye, problems related to growth etc. The treatment of this condition focuses on preventing the bones from getting damaged, pain control and improving the function of the body.

What are some of the common symptoms of juvenile arthritis?

  1. Pain: A child suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis might face extreme pain in the joints. They might limp after a nap or night sleep due to pain or stiff joints.
  2. Swelling: Larger joints such as the knee might swell frequently. The swelling might occur in smaller joints too.
  3. Stiffness: In addition to limping the child might appear rough and clumsy after waking from night sleep or a nap.

Other conditions could include rashes, swollen lymph nodes, frequent fever, headache, etc.

What are the causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the immune system of the body attacks its own tissues and cells. It is still unclear as to why it happens, although, researchers believe that the environment and heredity have a role to play. Certain geneticmutations might make a childmore vulnerable and susceptible to microbes that can trigger this condition.

What are the complications involved?

There could be several complications that might arise due to this condition. It is, therefore, wise to keep a close watch on the child. Seeking immediate medical attention can go a long way in mitigating the risk of these complications.

  • Problems related to the eye: Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis can damage the eye by causing an inflammation known as uveitis. If this condition is not treated, it might result in other conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, blindness etc.
  • Growth problems: Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis could result in growth problems. To treat this, a child would require a dose of corticosteroid.

How to diagnose juvenile arthritis?

It is not very easy to diagnose juvenile arthritis. Doctors often prescribe blood tests to get an idea of erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, C-reactive protein, anti-nuclear antibody, cyclic citrullinated peptide etc. A doctor might also prescribe imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI etc to detect congenital defects, fractures, tumors etc.

What are the treatment options available?

Some of the medications that are prescribed for this condition include NSAID such as ibuprofen and naproxen, DMARD such as Trexall and Azulfidine, TNF blockers such as Humira and Enbrel, immune suppressants such as Kineret, Rituxin and Orencia. In addition to this doctors would also prescribe corticosteroids and therapies.
 

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Autoimmune Diseases - Things You Must Know About It!

Autoimmune Diseases - Things You Must Know About It!

Normally, the body’s immune system recognizes any foreign body as an antigen and produces what are known as antibodies. However, in autoimmune disorders, the body produces antibodies against the body’s own tissue. This is an abnormality and depending on what factor is triggering the production of antibodies, there are various types of autoimmune disorders (AID). When we look at the musculoskeletal system, there are quite a few, the top 4 being:

  1. Scleroderma
  2. Systemic lupus erythematosus
  3. Sjogren’s syndrome
  4. Rheumatoid arthritis

In all these conditions, the body produces antibodies against its own tissue, producing these conditions.

Causes:

  1. Family history is definitely an attribute to developing autoimmune diseases
  2. Environmental pollution
  3. Lifestyle including lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol use

Know more about these:

  1. Scleroderma: Can be localized or generalized, the upper layers of the skin get thicker (sclerosis). This can be nodular or diffuse, and can also affect children. The skin and muscles are usually affected, but in severe cases, it can affect internal organs such as lungs and heart.
  2. Systemic lupus erythematosus: SLE, as it is often called, is very common and can be diagnosed as scleroderma in the initial stages. It can also occur with other autoimmune conditions and some of the types include cutaneous lupus, systemic lupus, drug-induced lupus, and neonatal lupus.
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis: The most common autoimmune rheumatic disease is RA, which causes inflammation of the joint spaces. There would be pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. This needs to be segregated as RA, as the symptoms are similar to any other form of arthritis. Treatment includes a combination of pain killers, heat and cold therapy, massage, steroid injections, and immune controlling agents.
  4. Sjogren’s syndrome: The symptoms are characteristic with dry mucous membranes including those of the eyes, mouth, and vagina. There could be accompanying pain and redness, significant fatigue, fibromyalgia, and complications relate06596a63c2bfa095274fedbd051133aing to other organs.

Diagnosis: Autoimmune diseases are tricky to diagnose as other diseases with similar symptoms need to be ruled out first. In some cases, there are specific antibodies, and checking their levels can help identify the underlying condition.

Management: For all the rheumatic autoimmune diseases, treatment is a multipronged approach with lifestyle changes, drugs, and alternative therapies.
Lifestyle changes: A healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate vitamin and mineral supplementation is a must.

Drugs: Some drugs used are:

  1. Anti-inflammatory drugs
  2. Steroids
  3. ACE inhibitors
  4. Immunomodulatory therapy
  5. Stem cell transplants

Alternative therapies such as massages with herbal oils, acupuncture, and cold therapy are widely used to control inflammation. In addition, alcohol and smoking and exposure to environmental pollution need to be controlled.

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When To See A Rheumatologist?

When To See A Rheumatologist?

Pain in the joints and muscles is a common occurrence from time to time for some people. But if this pain intensifies or persists for a long time then it is a problem. Rheumatic diseases like joint pain are hard to detect in their earlier stages. Also, the symptoms of a complex rheumatic disorder are similar to that of minor problems. This is when you should consult a rheumatologist.

A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases involving joints, bones, muscles, and autoimmune conditions. You should visit a rheumatologist if - 

  1. You suspect arthritis -
    There are over 90 different varieties of arthritis and rheumatologists specialize in treating them. Some of the common ones are osteoarthritis, vasculitis, gout, and sclerodermaRheumatoid arthritis is chronic inflammatory arthritis with a prevalence of 0.5-1% in India. It is characterized by joint pain and swelling associated with morning stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes. It generally has a slow onset - over weeks to months, though the onset can be acute also. Most common joints involved are small joints of hands and feet. Larger joints like knee and shoulder can also be involved. The incidence of RA increases with age. It is twice more common in females than in males. Early treatment is necessary to bring down the inflammation, avoid joint deformities and prevent other complications (lung, heart, vasculitis). 

  2. You have stiffness in the back - An inflammatory disease that can make the spine less flexible by fusing the vertebrae of the lower back together is Ankylosing Spondylitis. It affects the sacroiliac joints. These joints are located just above the tailbone. It causes inflammation of the spinal bones that in turn cause pain and stiffness.

  3. You notice joint swelling -
    Joint pain or swelling is the first symptom of rheumatic disorders. And if you get it diagnosed early then the chances of a complete recovery increases. 

  4. The pain shifts to a new area of the body -
    Rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints resulting in swelling, heat, and pain. But other parts of the body can also be affected. If the autoimmune system of the body starts attacking your eyes or the mouth and result in inflammation then you should consult a rheumatologist immediately.  

  5. Your blood test results throw up warning signs -
    The doctor might ask you to opt for a blood test if you have joint pain or swelling. Some common related blood tests are rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. If the results come back positive then you should schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist. 

  6. You can’t figure it out -
    In some cases, there are diseases that are difficult to detect. So in such scenarios, you should consult a rheumatologist early on so that they can draw up a diagnosis plan involving blood tests and a physical examination. This will help you avoid waiting for a diagnosis. This is because the sooner you get it diagnosed, the sooner you can start your treatment.

If you still have doubts then it’s better to consult a rheumatologist. Better be safe than sorry.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis - How Can Homeopathy Tackle It?

Rheumatoid Arthritis - How Can Homeopathy Tackle It?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not the same as osteoarthritis. This is an autoimmune disease characterized by the body’s attacks on the lining of its own joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a very painful condition and can affect children as well as adults.

Symptoms:

Common symptoms of this condition include

  1. swelling
  2. pain
  3. reduction in the range of motion/functionality
  4. stiffness in joints 

These symptoms can vary from being mild to very severe. They may also come and go. Allopathic treatment can help control and manage the symptoms associated with this condition but cannot cure it completely. Thus many people suffering from this condition experience flare-ups throughout their life.

How Homeopathy Can Help?

Homeopathy has proven to be quite effective in treating and curing Rheumatoid arthritis. It aims at treating this condition not only by merely reducing the symptoms but by addressing the root cause of this disease. Homeopathy is an alternative form of medication that treats the symptoms being presented as well as the patient’s overall physical, mental, and emotional health. For this reason, two patients with the same symptoms may not always be treated with the same homeopathic remedy. This also makes it important to consult a doctor for homeopathic remedies and avoid self-medicating. That said, it is important to note that homeopathy has negligible side effects. When being treated with homeopathy, patience is essential as it can take a while for the body’s immune system to work properly and stop attacking itself.

Homeopathic remedies can work in many ways to treat Rheumatoid arthritis. Some medications are best suited to arthritic symptoms seen in small joints while others are effective against arthritic symptoms noticed in deformed joints. The joints affected by this disease also influence the remedy. It eases the pain associated with this condition and simultaneously keeps it from progressing by altering the immune system’s behaviour. It also strengthens the immune system so that the patient is less susceptible to other conditions such as the flu that can aggravate Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

In addition to medication, lifestyle changes can also help a Rheumatoid arthritis patient live more comfortably. Exercise in moderation can help improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts; and antioxidants found in tea, fruits, and vegetables can help control inflammation. At the same time, foods that can aggravate inflammation such as fatty foods, red meat, and food with a high carbohydrate value should be avoided.

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Rheumatology Patients - How They Can Manage Pain?

Rheumatology Patients - How They Can Manage Pain?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It affects the joints as well as the skin, lungs, heart, eyes and blood vessels. This condition is most notorious for the pain and discomfort it causes in the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, it does not attack the cartilage but affects the lining of the joints.

This results in erosion of the bone tissue and can even cause deformities. There is no known cure for this condition and treatment is mostly focused on relieving the pain caused. Some of the ways to manage your pain are:

  1. Medication: Medication can help control the inflammation and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs are usually the first course of treatment. These may be accompanied by steroids and help reduce inflammation. The best medication to relieve pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. In some cases, stronger pain relievers may be prescribed but these should be used cautiously. Excessive dependence on pain relievers can cause addiction.
  2. Change Your DietA diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids can help control inflammation. In turn, this can help relieve discomfort and slow the progression of the disease. Cold water fish and fish oil supplements are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. In addition, it is important to have a well-balanced diet and to avoid excessive carbs and sugars that can lead to weight gain. It is important to note that heavier people suffer from more pain as their weight puts pressure on the joints.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Rheumatoid arthritis makes movements difficult and hence exercising may seem counterintuitive but this can help in the long run. Avoid high-intensity workouts and pick low-intensity activities like walking, cycling, swimming etc. Water aerobics is one of the best forms of exercise for rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga can also be very beneficial. Regular exercise is important but it is also important not to overdo it. Put exercising on hold during acute flare-ups and avoid doing anything that increases your pain. It is a good idea to consult a physical therapist to know what the best type of activity is for you.
  4. Hot and cold packs: Heat and cold therapy can help relieve pain immensely. A hot pack will help relax the muscles while the cold pack will numb the pain. Heat packs and cold packs can be used alternatively. Alternatively, you could soak the affected joint in hot water and cold water.
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