Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune disease in America today, with more than 1 million suffers—75% of whom are women. This chronic disease can cause painful inflammation of the joints, and ultimately joint deformity, as well as a host of other problems, and unfortunately is not yet curable.
Despite this, it remains very possible to continue living a full, healthy active life even with RA. Even with the lack of a cure (so far), medical advances in the preceding decades have provided many avenues for reducing pain, improving function, and slowing progression so that you can maintain a high quality of life.
It starts, though, with seeking professional help as soon as possible. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease, with damage worsening over time. If you take aggressive action right away, before joints have a chance to become deformed, your outlook greatly improves.
Successful management of RA typically involves a mix of home care and medical procedures. On your end, simply living a healthy lifestyle and taking the time to stretch and exercise regularly helps build muscle strength and flexibility and fights fatigue. At the same time, a variety of medicines (including specific RA drugs, more traditional painkillers, and/or corticosteroid injections) can greatly relieve pain and slow progression significantly. More advanced treatment methods (such as laser therapy) are also available at our office.
All that said, when pain flares up, don’t be afraid to scale back your activities and take a break for a while. While active exercise (when you’re able) greatly improves the long-term outlook, rest is necessary for significant episodes of swelling and inflammation to subside. If you can, stick to gentle stretches or low-impact activities during this time.
If you find that your RA symptoms are keeping you from the activities you love or from accomplishing daily tasks, you may benefit from a physical or occupational therapy. While both disciplines share many similarities, a physical therapist is more focused on improving physical function (such as increasing joint range of motion), while an occupational therapist’s goal is to give you the instruction or tools you need to perform the tasks that are important to you despite some physical limitations.
If painful arthritis in your feet and ankles is affecting your life, please make an appointment with Dr. Harvey Danciger and see what an expert podiatrist with decades of experience and the latest technology can do for you. You can request an appointment online, or call our Palm Desert, CA office directly at 760-568-0108.