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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, occurring when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues. It is a chronic, inflammatory disorder that doesn’t just affect the joints. It can also affect many systems in your body, including your lungs, heart and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints. This eventually results in deformity of your joints and erosion of bones.

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis isn’t all doom and gloom. There are measures you can take to live your life to the fullest while still handling your disorder. These include:

  • Rest when you feel tired. The disorder does cause fatigue so you need to learn to pace yourself. Don’t overdo it and when you’re tired, take a break. The pain from rheumatoid arthritis is also tiring on the body. Depending on how you are feeling each day, take it slow. If your symptoms are severe you may have to prioritize the most important tasks each day and leave the rest.
  • Stay active. Movement is crucial to staying healthy with this disorder. If you suffer from severe joint pain it may help to see a physical therapist. Stretching exercises will help. Don’t push yourself too hard by over exercising. Walking, swimming and bicycling are all helpful activities.
  • Watch your diet. As with many disorders a healthy diet is important. Calcium and vitamin D will help to protect your bones. Weight management will help to put less stress on your joints and the rest of your body. If you are having trouble staying at a healthy weight, speak with a dietitian.

Living well with rheumatoid arthritis involves an all over healthy body and lifestyle plan. Take care of your teeth and gums and use heating pads or warm water to help with joint pain. Speak with your healthcare provider regarding ways you can improve your health in order to live a healthy lifestyle. February 2nd is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day. Click here to find out more information on rheumatoid arthritis.