Community Feedback: Combatting RA Pain and Stiffness

Those living with RA know that pain and stiffness are often a daily battle. This battle can seem even more insurmountable in the hotter months. While managing pain can be a full time job, you are not alone. Whether it is in the hands, joints, or anywhere else, pain and stiffness can be a large obstacle for many, if not all, individuals living with RA. We asked you in the community how you handle pain and stiffness that comes along with RA in your daily life, and the responses were incredible! Many of you offered support and guidance to those just starting their journey, as well as shared many similar tips and tricks that help you get through the day. Here are some of your top suggestions:

Turn Up the Heat

  • “Hot bath with Epsom salts, compression gloves and muscle relaxers”
  • “The only relief for pain that seems to help me are very hot showers to open my hands and get my legs moving in the morning”
  • “Putting hands around a nice hot cup of tea or coffee”
  • “A long hot shower always does it for me”
  • “I’m using my hot wax bath for my hands two or three times a day to relieve swelling, pain, and stiffness”

Many of you in the community cited that heat, in various forms, seems to aid in your discomfort. Hot showers, baths, drinks, and heating pads were among your top favorites. Several of you even pointed to electric blankets, wrapping your hands around a hot steering wheel, and hot paraffin wax as additional ways to try to calm pain and stiffness. Heat may not do the trick for everyone, and some of you indicated you may even prefer icy treatments when finding comfort. Whatever temperature your pain responds to, stick with it!

Take Your Time

  • “I’ve found I have to budget extra time in the mornings to get ready, primarily if I know I’m having a flare up”
  • “I always get up at least 3 hours early than everyone so I can slowly move throughout the house”
  • “I take about an hour to get going in the morning”
  • “Start moving gradually in the morning. I know none of us get up running. But just take it gradual and those bones will limber up”
  • “I look forward to mornings I can just take my time”

Regardless of how you face your pain, it is important to give yourself plenty of time to do so. Recognizing that combatting RA pain is a slow and steady battle as opposed to a sprint can help put you in the right mindset, and help you set realistic goals for your day.

Keep Moving (Or at least try!)

  • “I’ve found that swimming when I can, and either just soaking in the pool or tub helps”
  • “An exercise routine. Moving is the key for me”
  • “Keep moving, but don’t overdo it. You do not have to do a lot. Just get up and do one thing at a time.”
  • “Heated indoor pool for exercise”
  • “Water aerobics in an indoor heated pool”

Although it may seem impossible at times, staying active, even in little ways, can positively impact RA pain and swelling. Many of you listed yoga or basic stretching as great ways to get moving without doing anything that’s high impact. Swimming was also a top contender, for those who were able.

Find Your Vice

  • “Hot showers and fuzzy PJ’s”
  • “I have a massage chair; it helps a lot!”
  • “Music and very hot showers in the morning”
  • “Actually for me, the Jacuzzi cures everything”
  • “I walk around the yard and take frequent breaks always with nice music to try to keep my mind on something other than discomfort”

Regardless of whether any of these tips (or all of them!) work for you, it’s important to find the little things that help YOU. Whether it’s a specific music playlist, comfy pajamas, or a favorite TV show, finding something that can always bring a smile to your face, even when the rest of you doesn’t feel the same, can be so rewarding.

Let us know if any of these tips work for you, and if there are any others you like that we didn’t mention!

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