5 Things You Can Do Every Morning to Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

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Published on May 31, 2016

5 Things You Can Do Every Morning to Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis, the most crippling form of arthritis, affects approximately 1.3 million Americans.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately
1.3 million Americans.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known for its joint pain, stiffness and swelling. While there isn’t a cure for it, there are medications that can slow its progress and relieve some of the pain RA causes.

However, those medications often don’t provide relief from the stiffness and pain when you first wake up in the morning. Although morning stiffness will loosen up and go away, it can take some time.

Here are some things you can do each morning to help the morning stiffness subside a little quicker to get your day started.

1. Keep Your Medication and Water on Your Nightstand

If you take medication to help manage your arthritis symptoms, keeping them on your nightstand means you won’t even have to get out of bed before start to alleviate your symptoms.

Set your alarm to go off before you need to get up. Take your medication when it goes off and re-set your alarm for your usual wake time. This will give you a chance to log a little bit more sleep and give your medication time to kick in before you have to get out of bed.

If your medication causes an upset stomach, keep some saltines on your nightstand too.

2. Set Your Thermostat

For chilly mornings, adjust your thermostat to kick on and warm up your house about 30 minutes before you have to get out of bed and get your day started. This can help warm up your joints before you need to hop out of bed.

Extra blankets and a heating pad in the morning before getting up can also help.

3. Exercise and Stretch Before Getting Up

When your alarm goes off a second time, your pain medication should have kicked in, but don’t get up yet! First, gently stretch and do some range-of-motion exercises to help warm up your muscles and loosen up your joints.

Still warm under your blankets, stretch your muscles and flex and release the joints in your hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Turn your head from side to side to loosen up your neck. Do the same thing with the muscles and joints in your feet, ankles, knees and hips.

4. Take a Warm Shower or Bath

This is one of the best ways to relieve morning stiffness. The heat from the water causes blood to move to the surface of the skin, which will warm your joints along the way. Even though you already stretched and flexed your muscles and joints in bed, try gently moving and flexing again in the warm water.

5. Turn On Your Dryer

Pick out what you’re going to wear for the day and, before you put it on, throw it in the dryer for a few minutes with the highest heat setting. While you’re waiting, drink some water, coffee and start your breakfast.

When the dryer’s timer goes off, put your warm clothes on – the warmth from the dryer will further help loosen up and soothe your stiff, achy joints.

Since morning stiffness can be worsened by daytime inactivity, find time each day when your joints are feeling good to exercise. Although RA pain may make it difficult to exercise, don’t stress joints that are paining you; instead, focus on moving the other ones.

Walking for 15 to 20 minutes a day is a great exercise that can strengthen the muscles that support your joints without overdoing it. Staying fit and strong are key to reducing the amount of time it takes to relieve morning stiffness and get your day going.

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