Loved One with RA? 5 Surprising Ways to Help Ease Their Pain

By Stacey Feintuch

Whether a loved one has just received a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis or has been living with the condition for years, you can play an important role in keeping them healthy (without feeling like a nag) by taking small measures that can make a big difference. Read on for five ways to help your loved one stay in top shape.

1. Visit the rheumatologist—together

Attending doctor appointments is a great way to learn about the condition, particularly if the diagnosis is new. You’ll be able to ask any questions and hear the response directly from the doctor. When you tag along, you’ll not only gain a deeper understanding about RA, but you’ll also learn about your loved one’s specific needs.

2. Join a support group

Participate in RA support groups, online chat rooms or online forums. You’ll learn about RA from people who live with it every day. Also, interacting with a group offers you a broader view of the condition.

3. Plan a fun activity weekly

Stress can have health implications for everyone, especially people with RA, because too much stress can increase pain. Many studies show that having something to look forward to—whether it’s seeing a movie, playing board games or blocking out time for a hobby—can reduce chronic stress dramatically. And since you’re the one stipulating that the time is devoted to “fun,” your loved one won’t feel pressured or guilty about ignoring chores, postponing bill paying or neglecting other tasks.

4. Learn to be flexible

Even if you plan activities, your loved one’s symptoms may flare up or fatigue will prevent carrying out your plans. Know that plans can’t always be brought to fruition and don’t make your loved one feel bad about that. Come up with an alternative idea, if possible, or reschedule the original date. And try to be with your loved one during the time you were supposed to spend together, if that's appropriate.

5. Rest together

Your loved one’s degree of activity must be balanced with rest and relaxation. When the latter are lacking, the body rebels and pain ensues. So do something restful together, like taking a yoga class or getting a massage. That way your loved one will bypass the cycle of fatigue followed by pain.

Published March 2012

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