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Rest vs activity

While I’ve read the medical/technical recommendations, I’m curious to know what works best for all of you.

With my earlier symptoms, stiffness and pain generally improved after being up an hour or two, and though some pain lingered, I felt like I was better off to push through. The past couple of months, however, things are changing. More joints affected and especially the past two days, movement doesn’t help a huge amount and as soon as I’m still for more than 30 minutes, it goes back to bad. I’m also having considerable pain at rest (gave in and took steroids last night so today is a little better).

So my question is, from everyone’s personal experience, is it possible to push through on the tougher days or does that set you back considerably?

Also, when not in a flare, how is your activity level? Can you get away with pushing in between flares?

Thanks in advance!

  1. Hi, ! I think your question is one of those conundrums many of our community members face -- push through the pain and stiffness to feel better and possibly risk injury or take it easy and give your body a break but potentially risk exacerbating the stiffness.


    If you haven't done so already, I would definitely discuss this change with your physician. It sounds like you might need to consider adjusting your activity to accommodate the changes you are facing in your body. I'd love to give you a clear cut answer, but it really seems to come down to listening to your body and knowing what your body can handle. I know this might be a bit challenging as you adjust to your increased pain and stiffness. It may take some time and trial and error to find that balance of just enough activity.


    Your doctor might have some helpful suggestions as well. I wanted to share an article by one of our contributors, Kelly Mack. She was diagnosed with JRA and uses a wheelchair to get around, so I trust her insights into adjusting routines to fit a changing body -- https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/exercise-habits. While I know you are not using a wheelchair, her gentles suggestions and honesty really help others find the balance between being kind to your body and knowing when to push a little.


    I hope this helps and I hope you get some helpful feedback from other community members.


    Best, Erin, RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member.

    1. Thank you so much! I expected that there would be no clear cut answers. I will definitely read the linked article. Your reply is actually very helpful in validating what I’m going through and helping solidify that there are no cut and dry answers. Thank you again!

      1. That makes perfect sense!

      2. Hi . Yes, unfortunately, there are no clear cut answers on how much activity is o.k. In fact, not only is it individual, for an individual it can change day to day (how's that for non-answer answer, but it does sum up the unpredictability of RA). I have read some of your other posts, so I'm a little familiar with your situation and pending rheumatologist appointment. First, let me say that it is great that you are seeking out information and support. Second, getting a diagnosis and a treatment regimen to get your situation and symptoms under better control may make a big difference in just what is possible day to day. Third, I should mention that I happen to be the husband of Kelly Mack, the contributor shared with you. I can tell you that Kelly works as hard at her exercises as anyone I know. Maintaining the abilities she has (in spite of a childhood of damage due to JRA before there were modern treatments) is really paramount to her. That said, she has learned to listen to her body and adjust. Just this week she took a day off from her aqua therapy due to a quadricep issue - better a day off than a real injury. Other days it can just be the RA allows less. It is great that you are trying to learn as much about this balance now. There will be some trial and error - they main thing is to learn from it and not beat yourself up too much along the way. Wishing you the best. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

    2. It's all about pacing yourself as you push through. No heroics. But use it or lose it, is what I tell myself. Try a milder exercise. Swimming? Walking? Resistance bands from your chair?

      1. RA is such an incredibly individual illness, unfortunately our answers may not equate to yours. Not the answer you were hoping for, I'm sure, but it's true. For me, if I push though I normally suffer from it for a day and a half, but some nights it's just worth it to suck it up. Then other days, I can do activity but once I sit down, that's pretty much it - I'm not getting back up again. I think it just is going to have to come down to trial and error and what's worth it in that particular instance. Either way, we are here to help where we can! Keep on keepin' on, DPM

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