How Caregiver Can Help You with Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Here are some symptoms:
- Stiffness that lasts more than an hour and gradually improves all day. It may increase after prolonged periods of sitting.
- Painful, red, warm or swollen joints
- Nodules or hard lumps of tissue under the skin, often found near elbows.
Some of the initial symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, low-grade fever, loss of appetite or weight. They apply to several conditions and may be missed by your doctor as applying to RA.
What happens in Rheumatoid Arthritis? The immune system mistakenly attacks the joints and other tissues…frequently the hands, wrists or feet. The person may experience inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness. RA can permanently damage joints so it is recommended that if RA is suspected, see a Rheumatologist within 3 months of the onset of symptoms. The earlier you are seen, the less likely that you will require joint surgery or replacement.
RA can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) which treat pain on a short term basis or disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) which suppress the immune system to reduce painful inflammation and protect joints. A newer category of biologics is contributing to improved RA outcomes in people with severe disease. Some people have actually gone into remission with these treatments.
Sleep and Arthritis
Lack of sleep can worsen the condition of arthritis. Pain can keep a patient from sleeping well. Talk to your doctor about medications that can manage the pain all night.
Here are 8 tips to improve sleep:
- Do not watch TV in the bedroom
- Minimize lights from computers, phones and other electronic devices (even a small amount of light can impact sleeping)
- Get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine and do not drink caffeinated drinks in the evening
- If sleep is alluding you, practice breathing in to the count of 6 and then breathing out to the count of 6; do this for 3-5 minutes or the count of 25. You will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and be able to sleep deeply.
- Of a partner wakes you at night with snoring, use ear plugs and an eye mask to eliminate distractions.
- Consider a device to help with sounds. Some provide the sound of a waterfall, ocean, nature and other sounds that help to block out distractions. These are especially helpful for people who work at night and have to sleep during the day.
Since pain and inflammation can make mobility more impaired, getting a home care company to check in on a regular basis will help you to be more confident about getting exercise and living a normal life.
Two research studies were done by the European League Against Rheumatism’s Congress of Rheumatology (June 2013). The first study analyzed data from 178 RA patients and more than 5200 Osteoarthritis patients (OA) who received knee replacement surgery. Although the RA patients were in worse condition previous to the surgery, they fared about the same after and had similar satisfaction rates. In the second study, 202 RA patents and 5800 OA patients underwent hip surgery. Again, RA patients began in worse function but were as likely to have an overall improvement as the OA patients. This means that getting hip or knee surgery when in bad shape with RA does not prevent you from having a good outcome.