Advertisement

How can I exercise if I have pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

While exercise may seem unappealing if you're experiencing frequent pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are a number of techniques to help you get through a program:

  • Moist heat supplied by warm towels, hot packs, a bath or a shower can be used at home for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day to relieve symptoms. Applying heat before exercise can be a good way to start. A healthcare professional can apply deep heat using short waves, microwaves and ultrasound to relieve pain.
  • Cold supplied by a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel helps stop pain and reduce swelling when used for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This treatment often is recommended for acutely inflamed joints. Do not use cold treatments if you have numbness or poor circulation.
  • Hydrotherapy (water therapy) can decrease pain and stiffness. Exercising in a large pool may be easier because water takes some weight off painful joints. Many community centers, YMCAs and YWCAs have water exercise classes developed for people with arthritis. You may also find relief from the heat and movement of a whirlpool.
  • When performed by a trained professional, massage and manipulation (using the hands to restore normal movement to stiff joints) can help control pain and increase joint motion and muscle and tendon flexibility.

Although these types of physical therapy can temporarily relieve symptoms, none have documented anti-inflammatory effects or affect the rate of joint damage that can occur in RA.

Continue Learning about Rheumatoid Arthritis

If Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment is Working, How Should I Feel?
If Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment is Working, How Should I Feel?
Should I Be Concerned About Taking Methotrexate for RA?
Should I Be Concerned About Taking Methotrexate for RA?
How Can I Tell if My Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Is Working?
How Can I Tell if My Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Is Working?
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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.