Preventing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis affects millions of Americans¬†and occurs when inflammation arises in a person’s joints, particularly hands, elbows, or knees. Over time, it can cause severe joint damage. There’s no known way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis itself, but there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that the disease does not progress to the point where your joints are seriously damaged.

The first thing you should do is seek treatment as soon as you discover you have RA. The earlier you act the better your outcome will be. Next, make sure to see your rheumatologist at least once every 3-4 months. He or she can tell you how your disease is progressing, as well as the steps you need to take to stop that progress. The one thing they’ll likely tell you to do is get exercise. There are plenty of exercises that won’t damage your joints, such as aerobics that help your heart and lungs, strength training for your muscles to support your joints, and stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi to keep your joints flexible. One of the best exercises anyone with RA can do is aquatic exercise, which is easier on your joints and widely available. Just remember to not overdo it, and always do warm up and cool down exercises to lower your chance of injury.

Another thing your doctor will tell you is to eat right. The best foods to eat when you have RA include omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, and herring. If you can’t eat fish, fish oil supplements are also an excellent option, just ask your rheumatologist about the dose you need. You should also eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, as increased amounts of fiber can also reduce joint inflammation. Strawberries especially have been shown to reduce C-reactive proteins, which are key indicators that show if your RA is acting up. And extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a compound that blocks inflammation-causing enzymes, so use it in place of butter or other cooking oils.

There are also many medications that will help treat symptoms, some of which are available over-the-counter. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are among them. Corticosteroids can also help prevent joint damage, but be careful what medicines you use, as side effects can vary. Also, do not combine any medications until you’ve spoken to your doctor, as only he or she can tell you what pills are safe to take together.

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Posted on May 5, 2023