Living with rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, not only in the elderly but also in children. A staggering one in nine Dutch citizens has some form of rheumatoid arthritis, making it one of the largest chronic conditions in the Netherlands. Women, in particular, are more commonly affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatic conditions are generally divided into three main groups: inflammatory rheumatism, soft tissue rheumatism, and degenerative rheumatism. Metabolic diseases can also fall under the category of rheumatic conditions, including conditions like gout. The most well-known rheumatic condition is RA (rheumatoid arthritis, which is inflammatory rheumatism). Osteoarthritis is the most common condition.
Important Information About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Living with rheumatoid arthritis has a significant impact on daily life. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms such as morning stiffness in joints and/or muscles, fatigue, pain, and joint damage. When inflammation occurs in the joints, they become swollen and warm, making movement more difficult and causing increased discomfort in daily activities. Moreover, it can affect your surroundings, work opportunities, and emotions. Maintaining activities (such as work), active participation in society, and independence are crucial for quality of life. Rheumatoid arthritis has an unpredictable course, meaning that some days can be good while others are not. Learning to cope with this variability is essential, and acceptance plays a crucial role.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Joint Pain
It is also essential to pay attention to your lifestyle and strive for a healthy weight. Weight loss through attention to diet and regular physical activity has numerous benefits for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and excess weight. Exercise can have both physiological and psychological benefits in daily life for people with rheumatoid arthritis. It is crucial to continue moving and strengthening the body, as it has a significant positive impact on the progression of rheumatic conditions. It can reduce functional decline and pain perception, as well as positively affect the affected joints. Therefore, the advice for individuals with joint pain is to engage in physical activity.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Exercising with Rheumatoid Arthritis
In general, most sports are suitable for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis when performed responsibly. It is wise to engage in sports that train your muscles without excessively burdening your joints. Exercising in a hot cabin has the additional advantage that your legs do not have to support your body weight. Joint loading is minimal as you exercise in a lying position, especially for the lower extremities. However, you can still use and train all the muscles in your body. Exercising in a hot cabin can make living with rheumatoid arthritis more manageable. If you want to learn more about sports and exercise with rheumatoid arthritis, you can read the article on exercising with rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Nutrition
Nutrition is always important, especially when living with rheumatoid arthritis. Some people may also try dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Since everyone is different, not everyone may benefit from these supplements, so it’s essential to discuss this with your primary care physician or consult a dietitian specializing in rheumatic conditions. Furthermore, smoking is always discouraged for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, as it narrows blood vessels and impairs blood circulation, which can negatively affect cartilage and bone. You can find more information on the topic of rheumatoid arthritis and nutrition here.
Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here are some general considerations based on living with rheumatoid arthritis, which we discuss more extensively in the article on coping with rheumatoid arthritis:
Acceptance and potential associated consequences. Knowledge can aid in accepting and dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, and you can seek assistance from a coach for this. If you require specific help or information, do not hesitate to consult a specialist. If you experience loneliness, lack of understanding, or difficulty in accepting your condition, consider scheduling an appointment with an expert or seek out someone who shares a similar experience (a “fellow sufferer”). Talking to someone with rheumatoid arthritis can be helpful. Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle to keep your body and mind strong.