Tips to handle rheumatoid arthritis pain from Encinitas, CA rheumatologist
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can cause debilitating pain. At Seaside Rheumatology in Encinitas, CA, board-certified rheumatologist Dr. Peter Lloyd understands the toll that rheumatoid arthritis can take on your quality of life and works closely with patients to help them get relief. Below, Dr. Lloyd offers tips to handle rheumatoid arthritis pain, from prescription medications to integrative therapies and lifestyle modifications that can help you get back to doing the activities you love.
Traditional therapies for rheumatoid arthritis pain
A variety of traditional therapies are available to help proactively manage your rheumatoid arthritis pain. Dr. Lloyd works with each patient individually to create a regimen that is best for their specific needs—what works for one patient doesn’t always work for another. Types of therapies that may be recommended include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), either prescription or over the counter, to provide temporary pain relief
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS), which can slow the development of RA and prevent damage to your joints
- Steroids, which reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling
- Biologics, which can slow or halt the progression of rheumatoid arthritis
- Other medications, such as tofacitinib
If you are taking a medication for your rheumatoid arthritis, it is important that you take it on a regular schedule as prescribed. Skipping or delaying doses can diminish the medication’s effectiveness and lead to more pain.
In addition to traditional therapies, several integrative therapies can be used alone or together and are often highly successful at helping patients manage their pain.
Eating a balanced diet that is rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory foods can help your symptoms. While it can be tempting to turn to alcohol or comfort foods that are full of sugar, refined carbohydrates, or unhealthy fats when you are in pain, these can increase negative symptoms, so we encourage you to instead try to choose healthy options. For some people, certain foods can trigger more inflammation and negative symptoms. We can work with you to create a well-planned elimination diet to identify possible food triggers that may be exacerbating your symptoms.
Other integrative therapies that we may recommend include:
- Prebiotics and probiotics to boost the healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal system, which can have far-reaching effects on your whole body
- Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids
- Herbal supplements that have can help reduce inflammation
- Sea cucumber extract
Other home remedies to manage pain
It is important to work closely with a board-certified rheumatologist to manage your RA pain, but there are several proactive self-care steps you can take at home to minimize your pain and prevent it from worsening.
Regular low-impact physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can not only help keep your joints moving and reduce inflammation, but also has wonderful benefits for your entire body – exercise keeps your heart healthy, strengthens your muscles, and improves your flexibility. In fact, exercise is considered a key component of treating rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to account for any pre-existing joint damage when creating your exercise program. Dr. Lloyd can work with you to determine the right exercises for you to achieve the greatest benefits.
A positive mindset and reducing your levels of stress can go a long way towards alleviating your pain. We encourage patients to take time every day to relax and de-stress, whether it is spending 30 minutes doing something you love, practicing mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, or another activity that helps you unwind. A massage can also provide relief from pain, as well as promote relaxation.
Support groups can also be very beneficial for some patients. Having people, you can talk to who understand what it is like to live with RA can be of tremendous benefit to your mental well-being. If there are no support groups in your area, then a professional counselor can also be a terrific source of support.
When you are in the midst of a flare-up, warm compresses can help reduce pain and stiffness in your joints and muscles, as can taking a warm bath. If a joint is extremely inflamed, an ice pack can also help alleviate the acute pain.
We can help alleviate your pain
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and are struggling to manage the pain, we are here to help. Our entire team is dedicated to treating patients with rheumatic conditions and we provide a comprehensive array of therapies and services to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life. To schedule an appointment, call our Encinitas, CA office today at 760-509-2429.