There are many paths of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and trying to decide which ones to try can feel overwhelming sometimes. When I was first diagnosed, everyone from the mailman to my mom was suggesting something for me to try. (If you have RA, you definitely know what I’m talking about.) Even now, I don’t share that I have RA in a conversation with someone I don’t know because there’s a 99% chance they are going to suggest something like fish oil pills to miraculously cure me for good. Bless their hearts, it’s coming from a good place.
I don’t know much for certain when it relates to arthritis -- it is such a difficult condition to figure out. We can all have the same disease and can all be different in how we experience it. However, I am as close to certain as I can be that treating the disease with a multi-faceted approach is more effective than monotherapy. It is important to try to pursue relief via multiple pathways.
I have tried many things to get relief. Some worked, some didn’t. Here are a few paths I’ve walked down. (Not all of them will be right for everyone, so talk to your doctor first.)
Hot tub. I had a very generous friend who made his hot tub available for me to use when I was having bad flare-ups. The hot tub was amazingly effective for me 10 years ago, and it still is today when I am having a flare.
Physical therapy. I have developed a close relationship with a physical therapist who took an interest in trying to discover ways to help me with RA. (I believe that relationships and trust are so important in my journey with RA). My physical therapist has tried many stretches, strengthening exercises, ice treatments, heat treatments, Kinesio tape, and even dry needling to help me get relief. I love that he is willing to do research and gain knowledge about RA on my behalf. For me, two things have helped the most: the Kinesio tape and the dry needling. The tape has been effective in supporting my joints and allowing me to have the range of motion that my weak joint (mostly shoulder) was preventing. The dry needling has helped me recover faster from swelling and discomfort after overuse.