Exercise Tips for Alleviating Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

image courtesy of WebMD

Post Contributor::  Valerie Johnston :: Healthline.com health and fitness writer

While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are several things that you can do to reduce joint pain, joint stiffness, and other symptoms of the disease. A well-rounded, healthy diet; relaxation techniques for reducing stress; and achieving improved sleep are a few lifestyle changes that you can work toward in order to manage your symptoms.

Exercise should also be a key component of your long-term treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis. Regular exercise will increase your range of motion, increase joint protection, reduce joint stiffness and pain, improve muscle strength, and boost endurance.

Getting Started with Exercise

If you are not accustomed to regular exercise, it is important to discuss your exercise plan with your doctor. Begin with exercises that you can comfortably perform, such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. Only increase the intensity of your workouts after you have built a solid foundation (increased endurance, strength, etc.). A fitness trainer or a physical therapist can provide guidance so that you know how to perform exercises safely and in a way that is suited to your current fitness level.

Before any exercise, it is important to warm up and to stretch the muscles. This will help you to avoid injuries and to comfortably perform a wide variety of range-of-motion exercises. If you experience pain or inflammation during or after exercise, be sure to give your body adequate time to recover. Pain is common during and after exercise, but it should not be excessive. Of course, joint pain comes with the territory if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Using a cold pack on sore joints and muscles after a workout can help quite a bit with pain management. By progressing slowly over time, you can avoid injuries and will be more likely to make a habit out of exercise.

Exercise Techniques for Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tai Chi

There are specific exercise techniques that can help in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. For example, tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice that has helped countless people with arthritis to increase their mobility, sense of relaxation, and overall quality of life. Tai chi incorporates many of the essential management tools—stress reduction, physical activity, mental focus, controlled breathing, etc.—that you can use to manage your condition.

Low-Impact Exercises

Low-impact aerobic exercise is one of the best forms of physical activity for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Swimming, cycling, resistance training, yoga, Pilates, elliptical training, and walking are all examples of low-impact aerobic exercises that will not cause stress to your joints. High-impact exercises such as running, tennis, and plyometrics add a lot of stress to the joints and bones of the body, which can be especially problematic for people with arthritis.

Resistance training has grown in popularity among people of all fitness levels. Free weights, elastic bands, and resistance machines are a few types of resistance exercise tools that are, in general, safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis to use. The degree of resistance can be adjusted according to your current level of fitness and strength.

Swimming is an excellent way for people with rheumatoid arthritis to exercise. Water supports your body during movement so that the stress on your joints is minimized. If you enjoy walking, try walking exercises in a pool. A swimming instructor can show you how to perform various swimming techniques that will help you to increase muscle strength and mobility throughout your body.

Consistency by Customizing Your Workouts

Discovering physical activities that you enjoy will help you to maintain your exercise routine long-term. If you already enjoy going for walks, for example, make it a habit to get out for a walk every day. If you enjoy variety, design an exercise plan that includes walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and other fitness techniques. Finding your exercise niche will help you to manage your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms more effectively.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer for Healthline.com, keeping up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.  With ambitions of one day running a marathon, she resides in East Texas.

Supplement substitutes (for Biologics)

Hello All!  If you are on a biologic, specifically for the treatment of an autoimmune disease or if you are considering one, then it’s important to realize how they work.  Here are a list of biologics that might be suggested to you:

  • Actemra
  • Cimzia
  • Enbrel
  • Humira
  • Kineret
  • Orencia
  • Remicade
  • Rituxan
  • Simponi

Some of these biologics work by reducing tnf protein.  Those biologics include:

Cimzia, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Simponi.

In my opinion, Kineret appears to be the safest of all biologics.  It works by blocking the action of the chemical messenger interleukin-1.  The only real drawback is that it is a daily injection and it is expensive.  But I am not here to tell you about these drugs really, but I did want to give you a brief bit of information on them as we go forward.

There are in fact, supplements that reduce tnf protein.  I can’t say how they work in comparison to a biologic that also reduces tnf protein.  I can’t tell you how much you should take either.  But I will say that if you are on a homeopathic adventure to controlling your disease, then you may want to give several avenues a shot.  Like drugs, supplements are powerful and for lots of people, have been proven successful.  If you are smart about it, you will attack your disease like a doctor would and figure out what supplements might actually work.  If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, chances are you have too much tnf protein.  You probably have too much Fibrin as well.  But let’s talk about supplements that naturally reduce tnf protein.  Here are your options:

N-AcetylCysteine-click link to learn more about how N-AcetylCysteine reduces tnf protein.

-reduces tnf protein, chelates metals, breaks up mucus, and fights cancer.  For dosage and precautions click here.  For product recommendations, click here.

Lactoferrin-click here to learn more about how Lactoferrin reduces tnf protein.

-binds iron, fights yeast, helping with anemia, reduces gut inflammation, reduces skin reactions, anti-microbial activity-fighting against ecoli, immune defense, anti-inflammatory.

Reishi Mushrooms-click here to learn more about how Reishi Mushrooms reduce tnf protein.

-antioxidant, treats mononucleosis, bronchitis, lowers cholesterol, fights cancer and inflammation and improves sleep

Resveratol-click here to learn more about how Resveratol reduces tnf protein.

-anti aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, lowers blood sugar and gives cardiovascular benefits.

Monolaurin (lauric acid)-click here to learn more about how Monolaurin reduces tnf protein.

-prevents heart disease, increases metabolism, lowers cholesterol, fights candida, anti-microbial and much more.

There are other supplements that lower tnf protein, but this at least gives you a start.  Off hand, I don’t know what they are but perhaps I could research and add to this list sometime. I just know that if you are fighting an auto-immune disease, it’s important to hit it at all angles and tnf protein is definitely one of them.  Good luck on your quest to health!

((GENTLE HUGS))!!-Sarah


How to Reduce Inflammation FAST… On a Budget!

I’ve had a lot of experience with this. If you’re flare is really severe, it can take time. And for some people, making these changes simply won’t do all that much if your disease isn’t being suppressed or changed by either medications or alternative treatments. BUT, in general, these switches will help, or at least I think they will! Good luck!

1. Switch from butter or margarine to OLIVE OIL.

2. Stop drinking milk and start drinking ALMOND MILK (unsweetened). Trader Joe’s carries it if you can’t find it elsewhere. Sugar is inflammatory so please don’t buy the sweetened version. And yes, honey IS sugar.

3. Start eating ORGANIC CELERY. Celery is known to reduce inflammation. It is also known to carry lots of pesticides if it isn’t organic.

4. STOP eating BREADS, PASTAS,RICE, WHITE POTATOES and CHIPS. You CAN eat Sweet Potatoes and Yucca. They are both Anti-inflammatory.

5. Stick with foods that are all natural. Buy the book, “The Inflammation Free Diet Plan” used at Amazon to understand more about inflammation and how much each food either decreases or increases inflammation. (Everything is in a point system).

6. Take COD LIVER OIL. It is one of the most anti-inflammatory fish oils to choose from AND it contains Vitamin A and Vitamin D. So it’s more bang for your buck! It can increase liver enzymes however, so don’t over due it and pay attention closely to your ALT levels. Once the flare is over, you may want to make the switch to something else, however, at this point I don’t have any great suggestions since most oils will increase your chance of higher ALT levels. Borage oil is pretty great as long as you choose one that is free of alkaloids. Just call the company and ask since most are unclear if they are PA free.

7. Get some light EXERCISE even though it hurts. Exercise will reduce the inflammation. Increase your exercise on days you feel better.

8. DON’T EAT SUGAR OR CHOCOLATE! If you need something sweet, buy bio-active Whey Powder and use Almond Milk. It’s sweet with a natural vanilla flavor. The almond milk will reduce your inflammation and the whey powder will reduce your tnf protein, thus reducing inflammation.

9. Get extra sleep! ZZZZZZZZZZ

10. EAT GASSY VEGETABLES. You heard me! Onions, Brussels sprouts, Asparagus, garlic, chard and cabbage are great sources. Gassy means it contains Sulfur and sulfur decreases inflammation. You’ve heard of Sulfasalazine and MSM right? Both contain sulfur, reducing inflammation.

11. If you don’t suffer from gastric reflux or ulcers, use CAYENNE PEPPER. I love to put it in my coffee. It’s a great anti-inflammatory and also helps, believe it or not, to make you feel calm.

12. If God gives you Lemons, you make lemonade, right? Well, if God gives you RA, you make LEMON WATER. Lemons reduce inflammation and they also help rid your body of toxins.

13. If you’re broke but need supplements, choose SWANSON. I did my best to research the company. From what I can tell, they are not ISO certified, however I had a hard time finding any company that was. I do not have experience with Swanson until my recent purchase (today-so I can’t tell you how the quality is), but I can tell you it was CHEAP, if nothing else!

14. Get some SUN if you don’t suffer from Lupus. Nothing compares to the real thing, even though supplements help and btw, you also get Vitamin K which helps suppress your appetite!

15. Speaking of appetite, just losing some weight and LOWERING YOUR CHOLESTEROL will reduce your inflammation. Cholesterol reducing medications have been shown to reduce inflammation in people with Arthritis. So be mindful of what you eat and know that lowering your cholesterol will do so much more than make you look great at your next doctor’s visit!

16. ACE BANDAGES can help push the swelling out and brace your joint for more comfort. And when you take it off, it forces the blood to rush back in, helping with circulation.

17. ICE PACKS in combination with heat, or even Ice packs on their own, depending on where the inflammation is can do wonders. I was able to reduce inflammation considerably by using an ice pack daily on a tendon due to RA.

18. Buy some airborn or the cheaper equivalent. Most drugstores carry their own version and it’s the same exact product. Airborn contains anti-inflammatories like vitamin C, zinc, ginger, etc. Take a few a day for a week and you’re flare should be easing up on you!

My 3rd and 4th Acupuncture visit in Culver City

Hi everyone!  Obviously, I’ve fallen behind in my posts that I promised!

I’m continuing on with a weekly visit to Culver City with Acupuncture.  I have another scheduled for this Friday.  Things are going quite well actually.  My third visit went extremely well.  I didn’t flare up quite as much as the times before during my third visit.  After the visit, inflammation seemed to really go down after about an hour.  And by the evening, I was loving the extra space between my fingers.  :)  I felt like this was really working!  The effect lasted for a few days.

That week however, I had been extremely busy and stressed out and it continued on for the next week and still continues on.  My sleep is more than deprived and my stress levels are at all time highs.  This economy has made me more than ever, stressed out about monthly bills and where my next paychecks will be coming from.  At the same time, acupuncture is very cheap and I figure things will fall into place somehow.  I don’t know what to say other than, I just have faith.  So I continue on with my part-time work, looking for extra part time work, and as well, trying my hardest to bring in business to the studio that I’m currently working part time.  It’s no easy feat, but I have been successful in the past and I have some irons in the fire.  This type of networking makes me lose a lot of sleep.  It required for instance, a 7:30 a.m. breakfast just last week and believe me, I never eat breakfast at that time!  Doing things like this, generally doesn’t amount to much, but every now and then one gets lucky.  Ok, I’ve completely side-tracked myself here.  I just wanted to give you a little background information.  Back to acupuncture….

Needless to say, my fourth visit with Michael in Culver City was filled with stress and my body was vibrating from a loss of electrolytes and sleep deprivation.  You know the feeling…  that exhausted feeling that makes you simply feel weird.  It’s like you’re not even in your own body anymore.   Still, I wanted to do the acupuncture.  Perhaps that would put me back into my own skin.  I have this gut feeling that it’s doing something great for me.  And because of that feeling, I don’t want to give it up.  And mind you, I don’t think every acupuncture experience is like this.  Like I had said before, my first ever experience with acupuncture left me with a terrible, three week flare.  Michael is making sure this doesn’t happen to me.  With each visit, he may add an extra needle.  My third visit had one extra needle on the top of my head.  And the fourth visit had two extra needles on each foot.

The fourth visit, I actually experienced some strange sensations.  My shins seemed like they were turning numb and tingling.  My ankles started to feel pain.  For those that don’t know, I have a skin condition that scars my shins.  So perhaps my body was waking up and trying to heal this.  Or perhaps my body felt it was time to ignore my hands and take care of my feet and ankles.  I may never know.  The inflammation in my hands did not decrease this week.  Do I assume that I’ve hit my point where this is, “As good as it gets?”  Or do I assume that it’s because of the stress and lack of sleep?  Or could it be that I keep forgetting to take supplements because of my fatigue?  Or do I just decide to keep on going because you can’t go through life full of assumptions?  My feet and ankles seem better than usual, so that was a nice surprise!  Perhaps that’s all it is, the body can only heal and take care of one thing at a time.  Again, I may never know because the body is so mysterious.  But I like to make lots and lots of guesses!  :)

Joe Greer

Greer

If I were to dress up as a doctor for Halloween, perhaps I’d be Greer and add wings on my back.  Greer is an absolute angel.  He doesn’t just serve people with insurance, but he also takes in people who have nothing to offer him.  His services awarded him a “2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his 25 years of dedication, at a White House ceremony with President Obama.”

I wish a person like Greer didn’t surprise me that he even exists.  I mean, who heard of such a thing, a doctor who got into the business for the right reasons?  I’m shocked!!

I’d rather not be shocked.  I’d rather be shocked when people don’t help others.  I’d rather be shocked that a crime was committed on the street and there was one person who didn’t try and help.

It is comforting though that someone like Greer is out there, and that he is teaching.  Maybe just maybe the world CAN become a better place and that health care for all is right around the corner.  :)

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