Ask Me Anything – Alternative Remedies

Has anyone had good results by limiting certain foods?

Kelly Mack:
Some people have experienced changes in their RA by adjusting their diet, but there is no cure-all or scientific consensus that works for everyone. Some patients find that certain foods worsen their RA symptoms and trying eliminations helps them to identify and avoid these foods. However, this is not effective for all patients and there is a great variety among what people experience as far as nutrition and RA symptoms. Generally, health care professionals recommend a healthy balanced diet to maintain the best health with RA. It’s important not to make diet changes without consulting your doctor and talking with a nutritionist if you wish to explore these options so that you stay safe and avoid possible interactions or trouble related to your medications and RA treatment plan.

Tamara Haag:
Like seemingly everything related to Rheumatoid Arthritis, the impact of food choices on disease activity tends to vary from person to person. Some of our community members have found that eliminating meat and dairy, gluten, nightshades, and/or refined sugar has caused significant improvement of their symptoms. Others report that eliminating those same foods did not have a noticeable impact on disease activity. Therefore, just as with medications and exercise, discovering whether avoiding certain foods are helpful is a process of trial and error. This page contains many articles about nutrition and RA.

Has anyone found exercise that you can stand to do that helps?

Kelly Mack:
Yes, exercise can really help people with RA to feel better and maintain joint health. I’m a believer that experimentation works and that people need to find activity they enjoy and also that your rheumatologist approves. Personally, I really like yoga and gentle stretches for my joints and have found adaptive classes to be helpful. I also enjoy some exercises with weights to help with my strength, walking, and going to the pool. The benefit of exercising in the pool is that the water both supports the joints and offers gentle resistance to build strength. My doctor knows about these activities and encourages me to do as much as possible while also keeping in mind not to overdo it and risk joint pain or muscle strain.

Tamara Haag:
Exercise and Rheumatoid Arthritis can be one of those RA catch-22s: researchers have found that moderate exercise can decrease RA symptoms, but the pain of those symptoms can make it very difficult to exercise. Therefore, finding an activity that is as comfortable as possible is essential in finding an exercise regimen that someone with RA can stick with.

Personally, I have found the best exercises to be swimming, yoga, walking, and cycling. Swimming is by far my preferred mode of exercise, as the water supports my joints and I can choose between sticking to gentle movements in the water on bad days to getting a lot of laps in on a good day. However, access to a pool, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and require the effort of getting from the car to the locker room to the pool, keeps me from swimming as much as I’d like.

Therefore, walking and yoga are my go-to exercises. If I’m having a hard time I may just do a few simple yoga postures for 5-10 minutes, as even this can loosen my muscles and reduce how much additional strain tight muscles put on my joints. If I’m having a good day, I may attend a yoga class or do a longer 20-30 minute session on my own. I did take yoga classes with instructors who helped me determine the best postures to do when various joints hurt before I began practicing on my own. Therefore, those new to yoga would be advised to learn under the supervision of a qualified instructor. For cardiovascular exercise I like to go for walks, and have various routes in my neighborhood that I can choose depending on whether I want to get in 15 minutes or a longer walk.

I also enjoy cycling, but only when my knees and wrists aren’t too swollen. I do find holding the handlebars puts strain on my wrists, so I am very selective about when I cycle.

With all of these exercises, I have found that moderation is key. It is far better to do five minutes of exercise than nothing. On the flip side, pushing myself to overexertion can lead to an increase of RA symptoms. Finding the right balance is one more of those RA conundrums that I feel I am constantly tweaking, but it does make a very positive impact on my symptoms when I’m able to stay active.

Comments

View Comments (10)
  • BonitaKennedy
    2 years ago

    My uncle was dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis. He had started with some easy workouts, yoga, doing some physical therapy program and he had also read some reviews on the internet regarding Nuez Dela India, and then he had decided to give it a try. Then he took Nuez de la India products and it really helped my uncle to deal with his arthritis pain as he was dealing with this pain for many years.

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing BonitaKennedy. We are glad to hear this about your uncle. Please keep in mind that different treatments work differently for everyone but glad to hear he is feeling better.

    Thanks for being part of our community!

    Best, Lauren (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • SydneyH
    2 years ago

    I have a lot of trouble with my hands. I finally went to a hand therapist and it was one of the best things I’ve done for my hands. They give me much less trouble now. When I do have problems, I can just start my exercises again.

    Otherwise, I do mostly walking. Walking is especially good if I can do it where I can get out in nature. As long as I don’t overdo it, I feel better physically and mentally afterwards. I do a lot of walking at work too. I would like to get a bike and try that too. On the really bad days, I stick mostly with stretching and floor exercises.

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Sydney – we’re glad to hear that you have found some exercise options that work for you! It can be very difficult but it’s important to work it into your routine. Please keep us posted on your journey and how it’s working for you. – Susan (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Sneed
    2 years ago

    I don’t know how to quantify it but it seems to me that exercise is critically important for a number of reason. Biking is as good as it gets for non-impact exercise but, where I live in the Colorado Rockies, that is not a year round activity. So indoor exercise is essential and I use three different machines: an elliptical trainer, a stair stepper and a recumbent bike. The stepper is the only one with any impact but is excellent from a cardiovascular perspective. The elliptical is the only one that exercises the arms as well as the lower body so is probably the single best. The bike is right up there with the stepper for cardiovascular exercise and also has no impact. Personally I do 30 minutes a day five times weekly and have for years when I can not bike outdoors. I split the 30 15/7.5/7.5 with the elliptical getting the 15.

  • jan curtice
    2 years ago

    I want to be as strong, active, and independent as possible. That requires exercise. For me, it is key the exercise is consistent. I find that I don’t have much muscle memory. So skipping my exercise times a couple of weeks means starting over. My favorites are the walking, water, and best of all time spent in my yard glamming it up! The most pain-free I ever am is when I’m in the water. A thought about those wrists and biking. Have you tried using carpal tunnel splints when biking? They would provide support and allow those muscles some rest. That suggestion came from my neurologist when I was having similar problems. Blessings. =^^=

  • marie66
    1 year ago

    Hi the carpal tunnel splints are great for me – don’t think I’d manage to cycle now without them! M x

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing Jan. Hopefully some team member will have information on the splints (you may also want to post the question on the Facebook page). Exercise is certainly important and there is a level of exercise out there for everyone. This article from one of our contributors looks at the exercise spectrum and doing what you can on a given day: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/the-exercise-spectrum/.

    A great example is our contributor Kelly Mack (full disclosure – I’m her husband) who was diagnosed very young and has significant joint damage, but does what she can exercise wise to maintain her health and prevent further damage. In this article she discusses water therapy: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/water-therapy-ra/.

    Finally, this article from one of our other contributors discusses the need to move the body everyday, with some ideas on that front: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/exercise-move-your-body-every-day/.

    Hope this information proves useful and please keep us posted on how you are doing. Wishing you some good, gentle exercise time. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    2 years ago

    My favorite exercise continues to be bicycle riding. Nothing beats a good few miles on my bicycle. but please do not tell Sheryl I said that. I mean obviously, she beats that. 🙂

  • Ketki Gupte moderator
    2 years ago

    Lawrence ‘rick’ Phillips, thanks for sharing! A few of our contributors also express that biking seems to be an exercise that works for them! We’re glad you’ve found something you’re able to enjoy! Take care! – Ketki (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team member)

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