Get your hands and feet moving

Last updated: 04-29-2020

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Get your hands and feet moving

Unfortunately in recent years it is becoming more widely known that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joints in the body to be stiff and painful. 45,000 people in Ireland suffer with the disease and although there is no cure, it has been proven that exercise benefits pain management and improves range of movement of the joints. The most affected of all are the female cohorts. An unfortunate but significant finding was the age group of 45-65 years who are at an astonishing five times more likely to develop the disease compared to others.

Upon diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis the importance of coming to terms with having the disease mentally has been deemed a difficult process proven by many. Nevertheless there are ways and means of support that are offered to many of those affected by rheumatoid arthritis. These methods and processes engage those in bettering a quality of life and reducing pain. Regular exercise has become one of the most commonly known anecdotes to achieve these outcomes. If no action is taken on managing the disease, more damage will occur in the joints effected and and the process of healing is delayed.

It was a common thought for many years that rheumatoid arthritis patients should not be included in exercise as it was thought that this would cause more damage to the persons joints. Fortunately, it is now clear that exercise is essential for managing joint pain for those with arthritis, but caution should be taken with intense resistance training Including exercise in your daily routine is beneficial for all people to improve muscle strength and joint mobility. It is common for people with rheumatoid arthritis not to participate in exercise out of fear and caution, this is the main barrier for these people to participate along with poor knowledge and confidence around the topic of exercise. Exercise has had life-changing benefits for those with rheumatoid arthritis for example improved fitness and muscle growth and reduced joint damage. The importance for these people to carry out strength exercises has been known to have multi-factorial benefits such as increasing muscle strength and help prevent deterioration around the joint. The images below show some of the recommended exercises which most importantly can be achieved at home making it a fun filled safe environment to improve the quality of life. These exercises have aided many in their healing journey by reducing the re-occurring pain reported in the joints and improve flexibility allowing for a free flow of movement. Most importantly of all this helps people to carry out everyday tasks such as cleaning working and getting dressed. As this disease mainly impacts the hands and feet, this is very important for the person to be able to live and maintain the disease. If the person finds it difficult to do these exercises, it may be a good idea to try them in a warm environment as this will help blood flow.

There has been a lot of thought around the differences between medication and exercise for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Using steroids such as corticosteroids can help reduce pain in the joints however, it can also reduce strength and muscle size. Further indicating the warrant of more exercise to counteract this loss of muscle caused by the medication and decreasing the need for costly oral medication.

Are there anymore tell tale symptoms that may go unnoticed as being rheumatoid arthritis? Women should take particular care of the changes in the body when approaching menopausal years. There is a clear link between menopause and arthritis around the start of menopause because of the hormonal changes in the body. Hormones changes could be a good parameter in the event that of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms progressively deteriorate around the beginning of menopause. Women who have arthritis before the typical age of menopause are more likely to go through menopause at a younger age. Hence, it is very important for these women to be included in exercise to help keep their bones and muscles healthy.

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