Rheumatoid Arthritis

Messages to others with RA

People offered many different kinds of advice to others with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), based on their experiences at different stages of their illness. People are all different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are their suggestions:

Your illness:

  • Get a diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible
  • Take your medication regularly
  • Remember that the painkiller paracetamol can be taken on an empty stomach, ie. first thing in the morning, without it harming your stomach (see 'Painkillers')
  • If you are in pain your doctor may be able to refer you to a pain clinic
  • Find out as much as possible about RA, medication and services available (see 'Finding information about RA')
  • Pace yourself, listen to your body and accept that some days you can't do certain things (see 'Self-management')
  • Keep moving, lead as active a life as possible, and do your exercises
  • Exercise in water, where you don't put too much stress on your joints (see 'Exercise' and 'Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy')
  • Try complementary therapies but be aware that they may not work for you and you may waste your money (see 'Complementary and alternative approaches')
  • Eat healthily and sleep well
  • If you have the opportunity, try and take part in clinical trials
  • If you are offered anti-TNF therapy, give it a go but remember that it is not a cure

Dealing with professionals

  • Approach health professionals positively
  • Build a relationship with your GP
  • Find a consultant you like and trust and who knows about the latest treatments
  • Work with your consultant, have a partnership
  • Change consultant if you do not feel you are compatible with them
  • Plan your consultations carefully, make the most of the time you have, build a rapport with the consultant and remember to ask questions

Practicalities

  • Adapt your lifestyle to accommodate your illness - don't let it take over your life
  • Accept help when it is offered and ask for help when you need it

Approach to life

  • Try to keep a positive attitude
  • Try to come to terms with the illness and accept it
  • Don't get depressed
  • Don't moan and groan
  • Don't isolate yourself, join a club
  • Try yoga or start a new hobby, something you enjoy and make time to do it
  • Talk to others with RA and join a support group such as Arthritis Care
  • Keep flowers in the house, they will lift your spirits
  • Trust in God

Message to other partners of those with RA

We interviewed 4 partners who gave the following messages to others in their situation'

  • Don't panic about what the future holds - none of us know what will happen tomorrow
  • Take one day at a time
  • Make the most of your partner's good days/periods
  • Look for things you can do together rather than regret the things you can't
  • Be aware of, and sensitive to, your partner's needs and be prepared to help when necessary
  • Be optimistic, with a positive attitude and don't let it rule your life
  • The problems can be overcome and there is support available
  • It is a gradual change and adjustments happen over time but it is important to recognise your partners restrictions
  • Seek information about RA
  • Persevere when seeking a diagnosis/treatments
  • Don't be afraid to ask health professionals questions.

Last reviewed August 2016.
Last updated March 2012.

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