Over 1.5 million Americans are living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints.

Whether it’s chronic pain or flare-ups, the best way to deal with RA is to manage pain to improve quality of life because the disease may never truly go away.

Corning Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing would like to shine the spotlight on four pain relief strategies to help deal with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. Medication

There’s no shortage of medications designed to alleviate the pain of RA. Over-the-counter NSAIDs like Aleve and ibuprofen can be used. Prescription corticosteroids like Medrol and prednisone can also be given, along with other immunotherapy drugs. Due to the variety of medications available, it’s important to provide accurate feedback to your doctor on how each one affects your symptoms.

  1. Heat and Cold Therapy

Warm and cold sensations treat RA symptoms differently, so it’s suggested that you alternate between the two. A heating pad or a warm bath can sooth stiff joints, while ice packs can numb nerve endings to help dull the pain.

  1. Physical and Occupational Therapy

Licensed physical therapists can lead you through specific exercises targeted to relieve RA symptoms. Occupational therapists will show you how to do everyday activities like cooking and bathing without causing pain.

  1. Diet and Exercise

Extra pounds can add stress to your joints, so achieving a healthy weight will be beneficial. Fish oil supplements can also help reduce inflammation, as can quitting the use of tobacco products. Moderate and regular exercise – brisk walking, biking, swimming, etc. – can also help improve joint function and range of motion. Discuss any diet and exercise changes with your doctor to help determine a plan.