How to Prevent Stiffness and Protect Joints with RA

  • happy senior couple, couple, senior, happy, outdoors,
    Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
    What's better than relief from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain and stiffness? Preventing them before they start. Follow these tips to keep your joints healthy and feeling good.

  • Senior couple walking
    Stay active.
    It can be tempting to let joint stiffness keep you on the couch. But physical activity is actually a good way to keep your joints mobile. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist to learn the activities that are best for you.

  • Yoga
    Practice meditation.
    A type of meditation called mindfulness meditation can help people with RA deal with pain by activating the parts of the brain that respond to pain signals. To do it, just focus on your breathing. If a thought comes into your mind, let it go and return to your breath.

  • Close-up of vitamin d or e supplements next to open pill bottle
    Take fish oil.
    Numerous studies have found that eating fish oil can help relieve joint pain and stiffness. How? The healthy fatty acids in fish oil calm the joint inflammation that is common with arthritis. You can get the benefits by eating oily fish, such as salmon or trout, or by taking fish oil supplements.

  • cold compress
    Use hot and cold therapy.
    Before doing an activity that makes your joints ache, such as gardening, hold a hot or cold compress to the area of the joints that are affected the most. A hot pack relieves stiffness by improving blood flow; a cold pack eases pain by taming inflammation.

  • Me, Exercise?
    Shed extra pounds.
    People with RA who are obese or very overweight experience more pain, according to a 2013 study. Carrying extra weight puts extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. The good news: Maintaining a healthy weight can keep pain under control.

  • Myth #4: Exercise is a waste of breath.
    Don't skimp on strength.
    Strong muscles take some of the load off of your joints, which may prevent painful joint deterioration in the future. Aim to strength train every major muscle group in the body two or three times per week. Your doctor or a physical therapist can suggest exercises.

  • Serious old woman with glasses
    Rest before you need to.
    While some activity is good, too much activity can make joints ache. Alternate throughout your day between active tasks and rest. Scheduling breaks helps prevent pain before it starts.

  • Doctor
    See a specialist.
    Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in rheumatoid arthritis and other joint diseases. A rheumatologist can design a treatment plan that best fits you. The earlier you get proper treatment, the more likely you are to stay active, which can prevent pain and boost your energy.

  • Mediterranean-Style Meals
    Eat like a Greek.
    The Mediterranean diet may improve RA symptoms by fighting inflammation, studies show. The diet encourages eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, fish, poultry, and olive oil. It also suggests limiting red meat and dairy foods.

  • variety-of-pills
    Take a probiotic supplement.
    Probiotics are helpful bacteria that exist naturally in the gut. Experts say these bacteria may play a role in how your body manages inflammation. Since inflammation is what causes RA pain and stiffness, probiotic supplements that help fight that inflammation may help ease these symptoms.

How to Prevent Stiffness and Protect Joints with RA

About The Author

  1. Ajeganova S, Andersson ML, Hafstrom I, et al. Association of Obesity with Worse Disease Severity in Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as with Comorbidities: A Long-term Follow-up from Disease Onset. Arthritis Care & Research. 2013;65(1):78-87.
  2. Cooney JK, Law R, Matschke V, et al. Benefits of Exercise in Rheumatoid Arthritis. J Aging Res. 2011 Feb 13;2011;681640:1-14.
  3. Vitetta L, Coulson S, Schloss J, et al. Dietary Recommendations for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements. 2012;4:1-15.
  4. Miles EA and Calder PC. Influence of Marine n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Immune Function and a Systematic Review of Their Effects on Clinical Outcomes in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Br J Nutr. 2012;107:S171-S184.
  5. Rheumatoid Arthritis In-Depth. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  6. Arthritis of the Hand. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  7. Tips for Living Life to Its Fullest: Living with Arthritis. The American Occupational Therapy Association
  8. Polyunsaturated Fats. American Heart Association
  9. Zeidan F, Martucci KT, Kraft RA, et al. Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation. J Neurosci. 2011;31(14):5540-8. 
  10. Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment. National Institutes of Health
  11. Exercise and Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology
  12. Rheumatoid Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2018 Oct 4
Explore Rheumatoid Arthritis
Recommended Reading
Next Up
Answers to Your Health Questions
Trending Videos