Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can mean that some days go perfectly and others present unlimited challenges. I never know when my symptoms are going to flare, but when they do, I’ve found some strategies that have helped me get through the day.
When my joints are really giving me trouble, I like to sit in a warm bath or soak my hands in paraffin wax. The warmth really helps ease my pain and allows me to relax at the same time, which is another way I find that I’m able to help reduce my symptoms during an RA flare. Warmth can also come from a heating pad or other means, and it has really helped me during flare-ups.
During my early days living with RA, I would wait for a symptom to arrive and then frantically call my rheumatologist to ask what I could do to ease the pain and stiffness, but now I talk to my doctor proactively. When I have an office visit, even if I’m feeling fine, I’ll ask, “If something happens, what can I take?” Because I want to have any medications or therapies at the ready rather than having to track down a busy doctor.
It can be really frustrating to read stories of other people with RA who were able to cure their symptoms with lifestyle changes, particularly when I’ve tried those same things and they made no difference for me.
Early on in my diagnosis, I would get caught up in these types of stories. For instance, I read an account of someone who didn’t have to take RA medication anymore after following a vegan diet — but I was following a vegan diet at the time, and I still had to take medications. Then I’d see that people had fewer flares after trying the carnivore diet. So it became clear that what worked for one person may not work for another.
I still listen to the stories of other people with RA, but I don’t get so caught up in it anymore. I know we’re all different, and that what works for other people may not work for me. Each of us living with RA is an individual with our own unique needs, interests, and journeys, and it’s important to remember that.
My Perspective articles discuss rheumatoid arthritis from a specific point of view. My Perspective articles don’t reflect the opinions of myRAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on myRAteam isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.