A chronic inflammatory disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis affects the smaller joints in one's hands and feet. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means it occurs when the immune system accidentally targets its own body's tissues. It causes the lining of joints to have painful swelling, and leads to joint deformity and bone erosion. It is much more common in women than in men, and is known to usually begin after the age of 40. There are many therapies available for those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Doctors recommend keeping one's joints healthy, strong and flexible to keep the symptoms down.
Through therapy, many have been able to feel better. Some therapies, such as occupational therapy, require that one visit a professional. However, many of the therapies suggested today are ones that can be done from home, alone! The goal of each therapy is to lessen the pain, and hopefully improve the swelling. It is also important to work on being less stressed, and therapies are a great way to relax.
Top 10 Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
1. Green Tea is a soothing beverage. With the active ingredients of green tea, which are polyphenols, there have been signs that green tea can treat RA effectively. While there are many studies underway currently, these ingredients might affect the immune system by decreasing substances that deform the joints of those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis.
2. Exercise is perhaps one of the most important therapies suggested. It is imperative that patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis keep their joints flexible and strong. With the amount of swelling in their joints, it is important to exercise and keep the stress off. There are many possibilities for those with arthritis, from walking to biking, yoga to Tai Chi. A good exercise is done daily, with a variety of positions and weight-bearing exercises to keep the bones strong. Professionals suggest that those suffering from RA are more likely to develop osteoporosis, as well as depression. Exercise is excellent, as it keeps depression and osteoporosis away!
3. Occupational therapy aims to target trouble areas in daily living, and work out eliminating the issue or working around it in some other way. Therapists from this line of therapy are helpful in ensuring that those suffering from RA are much less stressful over the situation. They help their patient in identifying where their struggles are, from added stress on their joints to things that might trigger depression, and modifying the situation to avoid it.
4. Physical Therapy is a type of therapy in which professionals utilize a variety of sensations on their patient. Through the use of ice, electrical stimulation, range-of-motion exercises, gentle strengthening moves and heat to ease the inflammation and swelling, as well as increase the shape of one's joints. There are many professionals who vouch for the benefit of physical therapy.
5. Hot-Cold treatments are meant for use at home. One can easily relax their body through the use of a hot bath or shower. Hot water is known to relax, as well as soothe particularly painful joints and muscles. It is also known to have an effect on the mind, calming and relaxing one mentally. It is also appropriate to apply heating pads or ice packs, however don't overdo it! The cold will reduce joint swelling, as well as inflammation. The heat will relax the muscles, and stimulate blood flow.
6. Mind-Body Therapy concerns focusing the mind and body. This is accomplished through meditation, breathing exercises, guided relaxation and biofeedback. The goal of mind-body therapy is to help the patient focus their mind, find methods that help the patient cope with the pain and improve their strength and flexibility. Under this category also falls Tai Chi, as it is considered a slow moving exercise that requires the use of one's mind. There have been studies that support mind-body therapies, as they have resulted in an improvement of mood, as well as quality of life.
7. Fish Oil is known to ease one's pain and inflammation, so it may be a perfect "therapy" for it. The side effects of fish oil is known to be effective for relieving pain, just as much as ibuprofen takes down inflammation. However, it is more natural, and thus many find it better to take than drugs and pills.
8. Counseling concerns the mind of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Chronic illnesses often leave people feeling depressed, anxious and unhappy. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, one can have a professional assist them in identifying the problems in the way they think or act. They will have the encouragement to change their behavior to better cope with the stress, as well as pains and strains of RA.
9. Complementary Therapies Read more here at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/RA/getthefacts.htm
10. Massage is one of the best therapies, at certain times. If the joints and muscles aren't too tender, one can benefit greatly from this, as it is meant to ease muscle tension in the joints, as well as relax one's body.
- James R. O'Dell, MD, Larson Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska; chief of rheumatology and immunology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha; secretary, American College of Rheumatology. Reviewed on March 13, 2013