Understanding the Coronavirus with Rheumatoid Arthritis

For anyone who is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is extremely important to understand the importance of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 called COVID-19.  People with Rheumatoid Arthritis are predisposed (at greater risk) to infections because of both their disease as well as the medications they take to manage it. Recognizing this increased susceptibility and the importance of being well-informed in order to take appropriate actions, we are sharing the below information from the CDC.

Being experts in vitamin therapy,  we want to make sure anyone with RA  is consistently eating healthy and receiving vitamin supplements during this time.

Most recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement noting that while the risk of widespread infection continues to be low in the U.S., it is important to prepare for the possibility. As with any respiratory illness, the agency recommends ways to protect against infection that everyone should follow, and particularly the elderly, children and people whose immune systems are compromised (weakened).

Steps to Prevent Infection

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent infection is to:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when not near soap and water

Clean and disinfect areas you and others touch often

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

Travel Caution from the CDC

The CDC is also a good resource for advice about traveling outside of the U.S. Here are their current recommendations:

Avoid travel to the People’s Republic of China and South Korea unless necessary.

Older people and those with chronic medical conditions are advised to postpone travel if possible, to Iran, Italy and Japan because of the current cases of disease seen in these countries.

Before traveling to other countries, check the CDC’s travel health notices for updates.

 

The American College of Rheumatology provided guidance for people who have rheumatologic diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Suggestions for prevention agree with the CDC recommendations; however, the overall content is specific to the concerns of this population.

Exercising With RA

Hey Warriors! Do you find it hard to get up and exercise somedays, especially during a flare? In this week’s blog post we will be discussing exercises that are good to do for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Starting slow helps a lot and sometimes during a flare is one of the most important times to exercise.

Stretching

Our first tip is to stretch daily to help with flexibility and range of motion. If you can set a side time in the morning to do this that would be best for your body. This tends to help reduce joint stiffness throughout the day. A good stretching routine would be: warm up by walking in place for a couple of minutes, then do stretches that involve your knees, elbows, and hands in a slow movement and hold these stretches for 10-20 sec, then repeat each stretch. If you find yourself not maintaining proper form, use a yoga strap.

Walking

During a flare you may not have tons of energy, so after stretching try going on a 10-15 min walk. This often times helps put you in a better mood and helps your heart and joints. Start off slow and overtime feel free to increase your pace and distance. If you still want to exercise for 30 min during a flare, try splitting it up into three sessions so you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.

Cycling

Another exercise that is highly recommended is cycling, due to the fact that RA patients are at risk of cardiovascular disease. Riding a stationary bike is a great way to get your heart rate up and increase leg strength and reduce stiffness. This can also build your endurance so on your good days you can get longer workouts in!

Strength Training

Next we are going to talk about strength training. It is recommended that RA patients do exercises that build muscle strength in addition to cardio. A low level resistance band is a good place to start for this type of exercising. It is recommended that RA patients use lighter weights and do more repetitions. Start off with machines and only lift 5-10% of your body weight when working your upper body. You may lift 25% of your body weight when working out your legs. When starting this you may want to speak with a physical therapist, so they can give you a workout plan that is right for you.

Every patient is different and some patients may work out longer than others. Don’t push yourself too hard and it is important to rest in between workouts. A twenty to thirty min work out is all you need. On days where you aren’t feeling up for a workout try getting some stretching in and a short walk!

Latest News in Rheumatoid Arthritis Research

Hey warriors! Did you know there has been many advancements within the research of Rheumatoid Arthritis. In this week’s blog post we will discuss what researchers have been finding out about Rheumatoid Arthritis regarding what type of people are more likely to develop RA and their progress on finding a cure for RA.

Risk Factors

Rheumatoid Arthritis is most common in older women, but there are several risk factors that everyone should avoid to prevent RA or make your symptoms milder. According to Medical News Today an article written by Rachel Nall states that obesity and being overweight can often lead to RA. If you have RA you may experience unhealthy weight loss due to a lack of appetite and not being able to exercise, which can lead to cardiovascular disease or cancer. It is important that you maintain a healthy weight, not overweight or underweight, to prevent RA and to allow yourself to be strong while dealing with RA.

Hereditary

Many RA patients wonder if RA is hereditary. According to Yvette Brazier, researchers have found that there is a positive correlation. If a family member has RA it can cause you to have a higher risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis due to RA risk factors, such as obesity or smoking. One reason why women are more likely to develop this disease is because high levels of estrogen has been known to be a trigger RA.

Scientific Advancements

A recent case study that was held at Stanford University helped us get a step closer for finding a solution to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Dr. Paddock states that they discovered that helper T cells have low levels of ATP in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients and instead of making more ATP, they make more cell material which causes more damage. In people without RA these cells are able to realize they have low levels of ATP using the AMPK, which is the monitor of the ratio of ATP. So how do we get this monitor to work again in RA patients? They have found a compound, A769662 that can activate AMPK. This will reverse the behavior of the faulty helper T cells and allow enough ATP to be produced, so your body can have enough energy instead of producing more cell material. This study was released recently, so we hope in the near future there will be even more evidence that this can help RA patients!

Vitamin Therapy For RA Patients

Vitamin therapy is essential for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. Many RA patients have vitamin deficiencies and need to take many vitamins to help relieve their symptoms. While you can get some vitamins by maintaining a healthy diet, an RA patient typically needs more than that. In this week’s blog post we will discuss what vitamins are best for RA patients and why they help.

Vitamin D

The first vitamin that we will discuss is vitamin D, which is an important vitamin for your bones, muscles, and immune system. Many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is necessary for RA patients because people who often have a low level of vitamin D often experience worse RA symptoms than those with higher amounts of vitamin D. It is important to have enough vitamin D so your body can use the calcium it receives and vitamin D helps lower inflammation. Vitamin D can even be found in salmon, but if you aren’t getting enough vitamin D with your diet consider talking to your doctor about taking a vitamin that contains vitamin D.

Calcium

Our next essential supplement that RA patients struggle to get enough of is calcium. This mineral is important for our bones and muscles, however RA patients often have a hard time absorbing this and RA can cause bone loss. This can lead to weak bones and make fractures likely to happen, therefore making sure you are getting enough calcium into your body is important so your bones become stronger. Some foods that are a good source of calcium are: salmon, almonds, broccoli, kale, and orange juice.

Vitamin B-12

Another vitamin that helps RA patients is vitamin B-12. This vitamin helps make red bloods cells and allows the nervous system to function properly. Vitamin B-12 is essential for RA patients because it reduces homocysteine, which is an amino acid that RA patients tend to have high levels of. Having a high level of homocysteine can increase your risk of fractures. Nuts can be a great source of this. If you aren’t getting enough of these vitamins in your daily diet vitamin therapy is the way to go!

Types of Food RA Patients Should Avoid

Last week we talked about healthy diet options for RA patients and types of foods that will help with your pain and inflammation. This week our focus will be on foods that you should try to avoid if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the reasoning behind it.

AGE’s

Our first recommendation is to stay away from meats that have been grilled or fried at a high temperature, such as hamburgers and red meats. This is because these meats contain high levels of advanced glycation end products, otherwise known as AGE’s, in the blood. It has not been scientifically proven that this is a direct cause, but people with high inflammation tend to have higher levels of AGE’s. High amounts of sugar can also increase AGE’s, so it is important to stay away from sodas and candy. Try replacing it with a sweet fruit!

 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Our second diet recommendation is avoiding foods with omega-6 fatty acids. This is usually in processed and fried foods. Avoiding this will help with joint inflammation and obesity. It is important that RA patients take this into consideration while shopping for snacks. Instead buy fresh fruits and nuts for snack time.

Salty Foods

Another suggestion is to avoid foods with high amounts of salt. Foods that need a lot of preservatives often times have an excessive amount of salt. Even though prepared microwaveable meals are easier they usually have high amounts of sodium, so preparing your own meals with fresh food is the best way to go.

 

Alcohol and Tobacco

Our last diet tip for this week is to stay away from alcohol and tobacco. These can lead to many health problems and affect your joints. This can affect your balanced diet and not allow your body to get as much rest as it should be. Making healthy choices will result in less inflammation and much less pain as an RA patient.

Diet and Nutrition Tips for RA Patients

Eating a healthy well balanced diet is one of the best things you can do as a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient. People with RA suffer from inflammation and luckily there are plenty of foods that can help with this. In this week’s blog post we will give you tips on what food can help your RA symptoms and help you feel better throughout the day!

Inflammation Prevention

Our first diet tip is to eat foods that help prevent inflammation. If your joints are already sore, we want to make sure that there is no extra weight from inflammation on these sore joints. Eating foods that contain a lot of fiber will help reduce inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains causes your body to have less C-reactive protein, which is what causes inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil also reduces inflammation by blocking the enzymes that cause inflammation.

Marine Omega-3

Another symptom that RA patients deal with is morning stiffness and tender joints. One food group that can help these symptoms is fish. This allows you to get a high amount of omega-3, which also helps with inflammation. The best types of fish to eat if you have RA are salmon, tuna, and sardines. It is recommended that you eat a three-six ounce servings of fish two-four times a week. This can also help prevent other diseases, such as heart disease and can lower blood pressure. If you are on a budget fish may be a little too expensive, so we suggest eating fish that is in the freezer section or canned for a more affordable price.

Staying Hydrated

It is important for everyone to drink plenty of water, but especially RA patients. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times will make you drink much more water. By drinking enough water, oxygen and nutrients can be carried to your cells. If you don’t like plain water try adding lemon, raspberries, or cucumbers to add flavor and to give it a nutritional boost!

Eat Like a Mediterranean

Eating the Mediterranean diet has many benefits for RA patients and help lower your blood pressure, lose weight and lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, a great snack would be some nuts or seeds, such as sunflower seeds or almonds. It is healthy and fills you up! You can also add them to a salad or low-fat yogurt if you prefer to not eat nuts and seeds plain.

Making changes to your diet can be a big challenge for many people. It is important that you do it slowly so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Try changing one-two things a day and soon you will have changed your diet without even realizing it!

Sleeping with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Are you a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient that experiences sleep issues? If so, here’s some tips for you!  Many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients toss and turn at night and experience a lack of sleep due to painful stiff joints and inflammation. It is important that you get enough sleep so your symptoms don’t worsen. In this week’s blog we will discuss some ways that can guide you to getting a better night’s rest!

Take Pressure Off

Our first tip is to take any pressure off of you. Sleeping with heavy blankets can put pressure on your painful joints and make inflammation worse. If you need covers over you try using a very light sheet or if you would like heavier blankets, try propping them up with posts so their weight isn’t directly on you. This way there is nothing touching your affected joints.

Aromatherapy

Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have also found that aromatherapy helps them sleep. If you have the scent of lavender in the room you sleep in it is known to help you relax. You could either use a mist spray or essential oils can be the solution as well. Drinking a cup of warm almond or soy milk before bed can also help you fall asleep.

Coping with Depression

Many patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis are more prone to depression, which also causes people to not sleep well. It is important that you manage this and set aside time during the day to deal with your worries rather than letting them make you be awake all night. Some ideas for this is write down all your worries on one side of a piece of paper and how you will cope with them on another side. Writing your worries down and a solution for them often takes a big weight off your shoulder.

Set Schedule

Another tip is to develop a regular routine. Therefore, going to sleep, eating, working out and going to bed the same time every day will help your body sleep at night. Engaging in physical activity everyday will help your body be ready for bed when it is bed time. It is important to not sleep in if you are experiencing sleep problems because that will ruin your sleep schedule for the upcoming nights.

Medication

If you are in a lot of pain before going to bed, whatever type of pain medication you use might do the trick. It is important that you don’t take pain medication to sleep every night, otherwise you may start to rely on it and not be able to sleep without taking it.

 

 

Self-Care Treatments for RA Patients

In this week’s blog post we will be talking about self-care treatments for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Coping with RA can be difficult, especially when one week you feel great and the next week you can barely get out of bed. We will discuss simple at home remedies and self-care treatments that can help relieve some of your RA symptoms.

Heat and Cold Therapy

The first at home remedy that we recommend is applying heat or cold to the affected area. But how do we know when to apply cold or heat to the area? When experiencing acute pain, it is best to apply a cold pack to numb the area and reduce inflammation. Put the cold pack on for fifteen minutes and off for fifteen minutes. Apply a heat pad or take a warm bath when your muscles are tired and your joints need to be soothed. The heat will allow an increase in your blood flow, allowing tight muscles to relax.

Relaxation Techniques

Lowering your stress level is one of the best things you can do to reduce your symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing will help painful muscles relax. Massages and acupuncture are another two treatments that help relieve pain, increase joint function, and reduce stress.

Staying Active

Exercising is an important treatment for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Light aerobic exercises that strengthen muscles around your joints is highly recommended. Swimming and any water aerobics is a good exercise routine to get into. During a flare up it is important to take a break from exercising and bed rest may be what is best for you at that time. However, try to only bed rest for one to two days. It is important to keep you muscles moving and to stretch, so once you feel you are able to exercise again try going for a walk to get your muscles warmed up.

Having positive emotional support allows you to have a positive outlook on life and help you get back to your normal lifestyle faster after a flare up. As we talked about last week, it is important to go to your friends and family for help when needed.

How to Talk to Loved Ones About Your Rheumatoid Arthritis

In this week’s blog post we’d like to discuss how to talk to your loved ones about your Rheumatoid Arthritis. Often times no one around you will understand what you are going through until they hear it from you and experts on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many patients will take out their frustration on their loved ones, especially their spouses. To prevent this everyone around you needs to be aware of what your symptoms consist of and what would help you most.

It is important that your spouse comes to your doctor visits with you so they can hear from an expert what you are going through and understand. The doctor can be there to answer any questions your loved ones may have that you might not be able to answer. The more your loved ones understand what you are dealing with the more they will be able to help.

If you have children it is important that you make them aware of your condition. They will wonder what is going on and hiding it from them will make the situation worse. Sitting them down and discussing what will change around the house will help them and you. Let them know what they can do around the house, whether it is keeping the house clean or helping with dinner. Explain what symptoms you have and what it is like to have this disease with your family. Let them know how you usually feel at different parts of the day so they can understand why mornings might be tough for you due to morning stiffness.

After explaining how you feel to your loved ones they may understand more, but still don’t know exactly what they can do to help. It is important that you give them specific tasks that they can do to help to ease your pain. Make sure you don’t assume they know what to do and they won’t assume they know how you are feeling in that moment. Your friends may wonder how they can help, so don’t be afraid to give them a grocery list and send them to the store when you feel like you just can’t make it to the store that day.

Always remember to keep talking about what you are going through and keep your loved ones informed of ways they can help. Being able to talk about how you are feeling will help you lower your stress and frustration levels. Your symptoms may come and go so it is important to keep your loved ones updated.

 

 

Lifestyle Basics for RA

Hey warriors!

 

We’ve recently been conducting a lot of research into various alternative treatments and homeopathic remedies for symptoms of arthritis. In particular, we came across a lot of tips and testimonials regarding symptom relief through natural means, such as diet, lifestyle, and pain management changes. A lot of the information that we came across was interesting and potentially helpful for those struggling with arthritis, so we’ve decided to include some of the most important for you to read below:

 

  • Reach and Sustain a Healthy Weight

 

 

To start, it is important to recognize that additional body fat strains joints further. That being said, accumulated fat content itself can also cause joint problems beyond this strain. Rather than just sitting on your frame, fat functions as an active tissue that continuously stimulates and releases hormone production. Some of these hormones may promote inflammation and trigger a worsening of arthritis throughout the body. Overall, an increase in stored body fat can accelerate the progression of arthritis as well as cause increased pain for patients. This effect is why it is crucial for people suffering with arthritis to try and maintain a healthy weight.

 

  • Diet Improvement

 

To get a guide on foods not to eat with Rheumatoid Arthritis, refer to our previous article. That being said, it is recommended that patients consume foods that are high in: Omega-3,sulfur,anti-oxidants, and fiber. Across the board, incorporating foods high in these factors drastically lowers inflammation and subsequent paint or discomfort.

 

  • Activity

 

 

In the long run, physical activity is both important for joint health and essential to treating arthritis. The core benefit of regular exercise is that the muscles surrounding affected joints are strengthened, ultimately providing more support and strain-reduction. Regular physical activity has been shown to help lower inflammation as well as aid in hormone regulation. We suggest creating a goal  of reaching 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise every week.