How To Beat Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Morning Stiffness
For many people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), morning stiffness is a serious issue. Rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking its own joints. This autoimmune disease can lead to feelings of stiffness and pain in the joints, as well as fatigue.
Your joint pain and stiffness can be especially difficult in the mornings when you wake up. If you struggle with extreme pain and stiffness in your joints during the morning caused by RA, we are here to help!
Achieve Clinical Research conducts clinical studies on rheumatoid arthritis to help develop better treatment options for people with RA and improve their overall quality of life. The following strategies can help you better manage your RA morning stiffness and get your day started the right way.
Begin With a Nice Stretch
There is nothing like a good stretch when you wake up to help ease the inflammation and stiffness in your joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis. If your RA gives you problems in the morning, aim to perform at least five minutes of gentle range-of-motion exercises to warm up their affected joints before getting out of bed.
To help loosen the joints in your fingers and hands, try flexing your hands by opening and closing them 20 times before getting out of bed. Some people with RA find it helpful to perform range-of-motion exercises for all of the joints starting from the feet all the way up to the shoulders and neck.
Try a Breakfast With Fruits and Veggies
How you eat can affect your RA. However, there’s no set RA diet, but fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Eating a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day will reduce inflammation and it should also help with morning stiffness. A quick-and-easy way to do this is to add some fresh vegetables to an omelet or fruit to your cereal each morning.
Get Out and Take a Walk
Another great way to loosen up your stiff and achy joints in the early hours of the morning is to get out of the house and take a brisk walk. Not only does it help get your joints loosened up, but also increases blood flow, which helps to relieve inflammation and stiffness.
When you wake up try walking around the house for 5 to 10 minutes. If you really feel like getting off to the right start in the morning, try going for a 15 to 30 minute brisk walk outside to really get the blood flow going.
Stress can stimulate the immune system to become more hyperactive, which can cause more pain and stiffness in the morning. Find something that helps you reduce your stress. This could be meditating first thing in the morning or scheduling an enjoyable activity later on so you have something to look forward to.
Hot or Cold Therapies
As a general rule, try heat for stiff and sore joints and muscles and cold to numb a painful spot. But pay attention to what works for you. Some people with RA respond to warm or cold compresses. Not sure which camp you fall into? Immerse your hands in lukewarm water for five minutes every morning for five days. If you don’t notice an improvement, try the same experiment with colder water. Depending on which works, try taking a hot or cold shower in the morning.
If heat does the trick, you may want to run your clothes in the dryer before getting dressed. A hot shower every morning makes a big difference in her morning stiffness. Try placing your socks on a towel warmer so that they are toasty when you put them on. You can do the same with your coat and scarf in the winter. Sleep with a heated blanket even in the summer months to help take the edge off of aching joints when you wake up.
Organize When You Take Your Medications
Many people with RA take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to calm inflammation. If you’re very stiff in the morning, ask your doctor about longer-acting NSAIDs. The theory here is that if you take these at night, you’ll be less stiff when you rise.
Additionally, there’s now interest in exploring new ways to give corticosteroids to people who take them to reduce morning stiffness. This is so-called chronotherapy to have corticosteroids in your system before the morning and thereby reduce the stiffness.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Treatment
If your RA is under tight control, you shouldn’t have morning stiffness. When RA morning stiffness is disabling, a change in medication dosing or adding another medication to your treatment regimen may be needed. Talk with your doctor to make sure you’re doing all you can to treat your RA.