EDITORIAL BOARDNeil Betteridge
It’s not new news that people living with RA believe that the condition stops them from doing what they love, they let go of their hopes and dreams. Often, they may not complain or communicate to their friends and families about how they are feeling. But it shouldn’t be like this!
Living with RA doesn’t mean you should lose morale and give up on your aspirations. It does mean that certain activities will become more challenging, but this can make the satisfactionof achievement much greater.
I’m speaking from experience when I say that it’s very important that you explain how you feel to the people that surround you. They may assume they know how you feel but they won’t know until they ask, or you tell them. Make sure your friends and family live by the motto ‘don’t assume, ask’.
Living with RA is difficult. So, feeling motivated is hard and life may sometimes feel unfair, but you should never feel alone. When your joints are swollen and painful, you feel fatigued or disrupted by treatment side effects, the last thing you probably feel like doing is joining a yoga group! However, I have found that being active and social can really help boost motivation.
I have found that the difficulty with RA is often people find it hard to understand exactly how I feel as its seen as invisible condition and, on the outside, I seem ‘fine’. However, I may not befeeling‘fine’ and it’s okay. This is normal! Expressing your feelings gets it off your chest, which is better than bottling-up emotions.
In my experience, being honest about how you are feeling will help those around you understand what you are going through and offer the best support they can. If you find it difficult to explain how your RA feels, you may want to try making some notes which will help describe the pain and the fatigue. I think it is normal to not feel very social when a flare up kicks in. But, joining a club or having a busy social calendar can help to keep feelings of frustration or loneliness away. Why not consider joining a patient support group so you can spend time with people who understand first-hand what you are feeling?
Chatting to people who are going through the same thing as you can be a great way to swap tips on how to adapt to certain activities or to find out how others deal with aspects of RA you may find challenging.
There are many benefits associated with exercise. Regular exercise can also be beneficial for those living with RA.1
A properly designed exercise program can help, without worsening disease activity or joint damage:1
Improve cardiovascular fitness and health
Increase muscle and improve strength and physical functioning
Improve balance and reduce the number of falls
Reduce weight and fat
Facilitate psychological well-being
Before venturing on any physical program, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor about what kind of exercise will be best for you.2
References: 1. Cooney JK, Law R-J, Matschke V, et al. Benefits of exercise in rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Aging Research 2011;2011:681640. doi:10.4061/2011/681640.
References: 2. Arthritis Society. Rheumatoid arthritis. Accessed May 3, 2018 at: https://www.arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/arthritis-types-(a-z)/types/rheumatoid-arthritis