How can I cope with fatigue if I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

Fatigue is a very real symptom of rheumatoid arthritis that, like pain and inflammation, can significantly impact your health and well-being. But whereas pain can be relieved with pain medication and other treatments, fatigue isn't so easily -- or quickly -- remedied.

Some people try to push through their fatigue, but this may actually intensify flares, making other symptoms worse and leading to even greater fatigue. Your best bet for dealing with exhaustion: giving in to it. Limiting your activity and being unable to keep up your usual pace can be frustrating, but fatigue is your body's way of letting you know that you need to rest, and giving in to fatigue does not mean you're giving in to the disease. It means giving yourself extra rest so you can improve as quickly as possible and get back to doing the things you enjoy.

During flares, most physicians recommend 10 to 12 hours of rest each day, including nighttime sleep, brief "lie-downs" (you're awake but resting), and daytime naps.

Use these tips to help you get enough rest and relaxation:
  • Learn to say, "No, thanks." You don't have to be on every committee or attend every social function. Explain that you have rheumatoid arthritis and that part of managing it means not overexerting yourself.
  • Sometimes taking sleep aids can help you get the rest you need, but it's best to talk with your doctor before starting any new medications.
  • Give yourself a break. Be realistic with the expectations and goals you set for yourself.

Continue Learning about Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (or RA), you have painful swelling in hands, fingers, wrists - and stiffness that makes everyday living difficult. RA is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the tissues...

. RA is more common among women than men. Some have only one brief episode, while others have episodes off and on throughout their lives. It's important to consult with a rheumatologist right away when you develop symptoms, as early treatment can help keep RA under control.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.