9 Everyday Surprises When RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) Enters Your Life
8 minute read
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you know that the effects can be quite debilitating and really take a toll on your joints. But, unlike many people without it, you also may have realized that RA can affect other parts of your body, such as your skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
In addition to RA touching different regions, this chronic inflammatory disorder can be unpredictable. While one person may find that it causes them the most pain in the joints of their hands, another person might find they suffer more in their legs and hips.
Understanding the numerous and, unfortunately, surprising ways that RA can change your life are an important part of working to prevent and mitigate the damage it can do.
The 9 Surprising Problems of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The fallout of chronic pain can be unpredictable—one person may be able to go about their day with the help of proper medication and a boost from joint supplements, but another may find the pain it simply too much for them to stick to their normal routine.
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The following are 9 unexpected ways rheumatoid arthritis can change your life and throw some challenges into your day to day activities:
1. Career Change
You may find that your RA makes doing your job impossible or too painful to do full-time. People who work with their hands, even those who use a computer a lot, may find it very difficult to continue at their current position.
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That said, you may find some great ways to adapt and continue doing your job. How about talk-to-type rather than forcing sore fingers to type all day? Think outside the box to find ways to make the most of your limitations.
2. Social Life Slowdown
If you’re used to being out and about and diving into every adventure that comes your way, you might find that RA puts a damper on your ability to participate. You might also find that RA fatigue drains you of your energy and enthusiasm.
Finding the proper balance between what you want to do and what you can do is tricky, but you’ll get the hang of it.
3. Your Appearance and Wardrobe
In addition to the potential for long-range, RA-based joint deformities, you may find other ways that RA affects your appearance. Whether you discover zipping the back of your favorite dress is no longer possible, your sexy stilettos cause too much foot pain, or the act of pulling on a sweater hurts too much, you’re bound to notice that RA has an impact on your appearance.
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Your wardrobe might be one of the first concessions to pain and stiffness, especially shoes and outfits with a lot of buttons.
Another important aspect of your appearance is your skin. While RA may cause some skin rashes and even nodules, you’ve got the double impact of possible skin issues that are caused as a side effect of your medication.
4. Fitness Plans & Goals
Rheumatoid arthritis can make regular activities feel impossible, so how is someone with RA supposed to stay on top of their previous fitness goals?
Even though exercise can be painful with RA, it’s not an excuse to give up completely. If you have RA, it’s a great idea to talk with a physical therapist about your specific pain concerns and your health goals.
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They’ll help you devise a plan that works for you. They can also help you in the future, if anything changes. The key is typically a focus on low-impact activities.
One great thing about a fitness program that’s designed around you is you can customize it to focus on your strengths to boost your energy level and combat RA fatigue.
5. Independence Adaptations
In the past you probably thought nothing of getting dressed, a quick drive to the store, or opening a jar of pickles. When you have RA and you’re feeling your worst, just getting dressed is a challenge.
One of the first steps for you may be learning how to ask for help from others. From something as simple as getting rides to the store to something more involved, like lawn care, RA sufferers often need a helping hand and asking for one can be difficult at first.
Beyond asking others for help, there are adaptive devices out there that make regular activities easier. Even when you’re feeling pretty good, it might be smart to continue using these devices to conserve energy and be more comfortable all day long.
An occupational therapist is a great resource for finding RA-assistive devices.
6. Stress and Emotional Considerations
When you’re dealing with RA, you’ve got a lot to handle. Stressors that used to be something you could easily hurdle now feel like a brick wall that’s too difficult to overcome.
Having a strong support system can be key to staying positive and dealing with both big and small issues that come your way.
7. New Approach to Food
While RA is not as tied to your diet as some diseases, it’s still a good idea to avoid foods that can contribute to rheumatoid arthritis.
One thing all RA sufferers become experts in is inflammation. It only makes sense that foods that exacerbate inflammation issues or add to obesity problems should be avoided or, at least, limited.
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While there is no agreed-upon RA diet, you and your doctor should discuss which foods are good for you and which ones can contribute to RA pain.
8. Memory and Brain Fog Issues
People suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as RA, often have issues with memory. Memory issues and rheumatoid arthritis seem to have a direct connection, but there needs to be a lot more research in this area.
Just be aware that you may find you have more memory issues during an RA flare-up and make the appropriate adjustments to help you stay on top of your busy life.
9. Medical Knowledge
When you’ve been diagnosed with RA or any long-term illness you suddenly become an expert. Between your own research, doctors visits, RA support groups, and anywhere else you find your information, you’re learning more about your health and medicine than you ever expected.
This can quickly become all-consuming, but it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in your body and how to best cope with it. You’ll also find great support groups can help you create your own network of fellow RA sufferers.
The Bottom Line
One of the best ways to prepare for living with rheumatoid arthritis is to arm yourself with knowledge. By knowing what to expect and how to work around the complications you encounter, you can lead a full life and limit the impact RA has on you.
The good news is you’re already looking and researching, so you’re well on your way to staying in control of your life.