The pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis can really get to you. Pain relievers and immune-modulating medications can help, but they do not always nix the symptoms completely — and sometimes, the side effects they cause are even worse. As such, some RA patients prefer to take a more holistic approach to treatment, focusing on natural remedies that address the whole body in a balanced way. The best part is that you can even use these treatments in combination with your medications, if you prefer.
Swimming may seem like a strange medical treatment, but it's quite helpful for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. With the support of the gentle water around you, it is easier to move your joints, and this movement helps loosen them and flush out some of the extra inflammatory fluid. Swimming also gets your heart rate up, which further helps reduce inflammation. And if you don't know how to swim well, don't worry. Any form of water-based exercise can be helpful. You can take water aerobics classes in the shallow end, or you can even just wade and splash around in the water for a half-hour or so.
Yoga is also a really helpful exercise for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis. It focuses on gentle, progressive stretches that help loosen up the joints and warm the muscles. Hot yoga may be especially beneficial. The warmth of the air around you will help keep your joints loose so that you can stretch and move more easily. Sometimes people avoid yoga if they are not flexible, but if you take a beginner class, you should find that the movements are easy enough for you to follow along with. Most instructors also offer modifications for participants who are less mobile and flexible.
Cold and Hot Therapy
Sometimes, you may not have the energy to go swim or do yoga, and that's okay! Another helpful holistic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is cold and hot therapy. The key here is that you do cold and hot therapy together. First, you hold a cold compress or ice pack over the swollen joint for about 20 minutes. This helps reduce inflammation and dull pain. Then, you hold a hot pack against the joint for another 20 minutes, which increases circulation to the area and helps restore your flexibility. You can do this up to three times per day.
The holistic treatments above are really helpful for the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Use them alone or in combination with your medications for natural, safe relief.Share