Rheumatoid arthritis can mean living with long-term (chronic) pain, fatigue, and joint stiffness. Many people benefit from plans to help them manage their symptoms. You and your doctor can create a plan that may include medicine and other treatments. Early treatment can help you avoid disabling joint changes and chronic pain.
You also can do things to maintain your normal life and activities. To start, try to:
Learn as much as you can about rheumatoid arthritis.
Learn ways to cope with your symptoms.
Take an active role in managing your arthritis.
How do you manage your rheumatoid arthritis?
Learn about your arthritis
Learn about your body and what is happening to it.
Learn about your doctors and medicines, and what they can do for you.
Find out what can improve your health, such as losing weight or starting an exercise program to be more flexible.
Learn how to cope with your symptoms
Find out what helps you feel better and what feels worse. Some people can write without pain. Others can't. That's also true for walking and other tasks and activities.
Learn how to use your body to protect stiff areas. This can help you stay active.
Try splints, canes, and other assistive devices. These also can help you stay active.
Take an active role in managing your arthritis
Learn how to stay active with this type of arthritis.
Work with your doctors, friends, and family to set up a plan to care for yourself.
Set goals to practice your coping skills. These can include learning ways to feel stronger.
Follow your self-care plan every day.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Rheumatology