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Articles > What's your RA challenge?

What's your RA challenge?

If it feels like the aches, pains and fatigue of RA are forcing you to give up the things you love and are making you miss out on fun, take heart: We asked real-life folks with RA for the strategies that help them live a rich, full life. Read on to steal their solutions!

Judy Messina

Provided by HealthMonitor

1. RA challenge: Getting sidelined'
Carrick Porter, was diagnosed with RA when he was only 9'just as he was in the middle of tryouts for his school's ice hockey team. "One day I couldn't put my skates on, my feet were so swollen," Carrick recalls. "I got them on but when I got on the ice I couldn't move." Yet he refused to let that first bout with RA keep him benched.

Stay-in-the-game strategies:
Say yes to the things you love.
It will boost your energy and keep you positive. Experts agree: "Anybody who has the attitude that the glass is half full'is going to do better," says Patience White, MD, Arthritis Foundation Chief Public Health Officer. In fact, a study in the Journal of Nursing found that RA patients who continue doing the things they love report an increased sense of well-being.

Drink H2O. "When I'm well-hydrated, my energy level tends to be higher," notes Carrick, who stays pumped by drinking water and steering clear of sugary drinks. And preliminary studies back him up: Researchers at the University of Wisconsin suspect that a diet high in simple carbs like sugar promotes inflammation, a key feature of RA.

2. RA challenge: Multitasking mayhem
The mother of two active boys and an RA patient since she was 8 years old, Jennifer Vido leads a busy life as a volunteer in her community as well as working as an author, a columnist and a book reviewer. Amazingly, the more she does, the easier it all seems to get'despite RA.

Getting-it-all-done strategies
Commandeer help when you need it. When Jennifer has grocery shopping on her schedule, she makes sure to bring along her two sons, who are 10 and 15, to lug the packages and load up the car. Or if she's going somewhere with her husband, she gets out of the car at their destination and waits while he parks.

Cast pride aside. Need help fitting in all those fun'but tiring!'activities during your family vacation? Take a cue from Jennifer: When she and her husband took their two boys to Disney World, Jennifer rented a motorized scooter, even though she had initially balked at the idea. "Emotionally it was a very hard thing," she says. "I didn't want to do it, but I did and I was able to have a great time with my kids. I've learned to make modifications like that."

Make activity a must-do. Jennifer has cleverly built exercise into her schedule. How so? She teaches aquatic classes, a joint-friendly activity, three times a week! Plus, she plays it smart with her regular cardio workouts by doing moderate sessions on an elliptical machine, so she's not too fatigued. If you can't teach a class, then try building gentle moves into your daily routine.

3. RA challenge: Pain management
In the 25 years he's lived with RA, Dan Malito has gone through 20 to 30 different meds to find the handful that work. And it's still a challenge to keep pain at bay. "It is physically and mentally exhausting when you're in pain for four or five hours," says Dan. But he's got it under enough control that he's starting a new career as a writer, including a regular column on Huffington Post.com. In addition to his prescribed meds, Dan has developed his own techniques for keeping discomfort to a minimum.

Ache-erasing strategies
'See it" to soothe it. When Dan had to have an MRI last year, it involved spending almost three hours in the cramped machine'without moving. Dan took his meds, but they weren't enough to keep the pain under control. Still, instead of just gritting his teeth, Dan closed his eyes, imagined sitting on a beach and managed to take himself away from the situation. It didn't eliminate the pain and it took about half an hour to reach a point where his imagination took over, but in the end he was able to get through the ordeal. How does it help? Visualization takes your mind off your discomfort by creating a kind of out-of-body experience. "You're focusing on something other than the overwhelming experience of pain," says Kevin Fontaine, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Taking twice-a-day showers.
Dan jumps into a hot shower every morning and sometimes takes a second shower later in the day. The heat helps relax muscles and loosen up stiff and sore joints. It also increases blood flow and improves your range of motion.

Cushion your landing. Dan carries a cushion to ball games and the movies and sleeps on a special mattress pad that has a layer of gel in it. And he makes sure his friends and family are aware of his needs'if there's one comfortable chair in the room, he's not afraid to ask, "Can I sit here?"
Osteoarthritis Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Cast Joint Stiffness Pain Toothache Arthritis Lose Weight Exercise More Inflammation Swelling

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