Six Ways to Keep RA at Bay

August 03, 2016

Guest article by Dr. Manpreet Tiwana, Rheumatologist
Shore Physicians Group

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), then you know how debilitating the joint swelling and pain can be and how it can prevent you from doing the things you love.  If left untreated, it can also lead to permanent joint deformities and disability. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

With the right combination of medications and lifestyle modifications, you can send your RA into remission.  Consult with a rheumatologist as soon as possible, who will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that fits your unique circumstance. 

If you think you may have RA or if you’re genetically predisposed for the disease, you should consider making the following lifestyle modifications to stay as healthy as possible. 

  1. Quit Smoking. It’s been proven that smoking is one of the environmental factors that can lead to RA. Smoking can also reduce the efficacy of your RA medications.
  2. Practice Good Dental Hygiene. Studies have shown that people genetically predisposed for RA who had moderate to severe gum disease were twice as likely to develop the disease. Regular dental checkups and brushing and flossing can make a big difference.
  3. Eat Healthy. While there isn’t a specific diet that is best for RA, eating a healthy, balanced diet can protect against other chronic conditions like heart disease that are seen more frequently in people with RA.
  4. Don’t Drink Alcohol. Alcohol should not be consumed while taking certain RA medications, as they can increase your risk of liver damage. 
  5. Manage Stress. Stress can exacerbate the symptoms and severity of RA. Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation or healing touch can be helpful. Safe yoga poses can be discussed with your rheumatologist and instructor.
  6. Exercise. Make regular workouts a part of your routine. Begin with stretching and walking, and increase to low weight-bearing exercises based on the status of your disease.