Image of elderly couple riding bikes with arthritis.Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can make it challenging to live your best life, but there are plenty of ways you can handle symptoms and learn to not let it keep you from many of the things you love.

RA is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing pain and swelling in affected parts of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. RA often attacks joints in the hands, wrists and knees, damaging joint tissue in the process. It can cause chronic pain, a lack of balance and deformity in affected joints.

 RA Signs And Symptoms

  • Tenderness, swelling, stiffness, or pain in multiple joints
  • Similar symptoms on both sides of the body
  • General weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Risk Factors

  1. Age: The likelihood of developing RA grows with age, typically showing up in a person’s 60s.
  2. Genetics: People with genes known as HLA (human leukocyte antigen) class II genotypes are more likely to develop the disease.
  3. Gender: Women are two to three times more likely than men to develop RA.
  4. Smoking: Cigarette smoking (or exposure to it as a child) increases the risk of developing RA, according to studies.
  5. Obesity: Studies have found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely they are to develop RA.

Living Well With RA

Despite the difficulties an RA diagnosis can bring, you can take measures to live the life you want, including:

  1. Stay active: Seeing a physical therapist may help you deal with pain caused by RA. Movement is an important factor in maintaining your health with RA. Low-impact exercises such as biking, swimming, stretching, and walking can be beneficial.
  2. Practice good nutrition: A healthy diet can help you manage weight so that you don’t put more stress on your joints and the rest of your body. Getting more vitamin D and calcium helps strengthen bones.
  3. Take a break when needed: Don’t overdo it. Pace yourself, because RA will cause fatigue. If you’re struggling that day, it’s OK to take it easy. Prioritize the day’s most important tasks on those days, leaving the rest for another time.

For information on therapy services available at Embassy Healthcare, call us at 888-975-1379 or schedule a tour of our facilities.