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Living with arthritis doesn’t need to stop you from enjoying a full life if you do some day-to-day things to manage your condition1. Recent studies have shown that 80 % of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are able to live normally2. Here are ways to manage some of the symptoms, get relief and improve your quality of life.

Take control

Once you’ve received the diagnosis of arthritis from your healthcare provider, you may initially feel relieved that you know what’s wrong3. But when you live with the disease, it’s also natural to feel anxious, shocked, overwhelmed, confused, fearful, sad, depressed, or angry at different times3. After you’ve processed those feelings, you need to learn more about the disease and strategies to manage it1. This process of learning and figuring out what works best for you is empowering and makes you feel more in control of your health1.

Support your emotional wellness

The close link between mind and body means that how you feel emotionally can impact your physical wellbeing and vice-versa, so dealing with your emotional health is a vital element in your pain treatment plan3. To enhance your emotional wellbeing, it’s important to engage in some self-care, for example, by doing mind-body practices, eating healthy, exercising, music or art therapy, or enjoying a massage3. Avoid feelings of isolation and withdrawal by getting or staying involved in social activities3. Also consider joining an arthritis support group, which gives participants a forum to share their feelings, experiences, and coping mechanisms3.

Stay moving

Contrary to what some might believe, being sedentary increases joint pain and stiffness4. The benefits of staying mobile range from increased strength, enhanced mobility, and reduced levels of joint pain4. Apart from the pain-relieving benefits, physical activity is also a simple way to lift your mood, and boost quality of life1. You don’t need to do the same level of activity as an elite athlete ­– it may help to keep in mind that even a little exercise is better than none4!  It’s about finding out what type of exercise will give you the results you need and is on par with your capabilities4. Before adopting an exercise routine, always speak to your healthcare provider about what types of exercise are best suited for your affected joints and the type of arthritis you’ve been diagnosed with4.

Take your medicine

Your prescribed medicines play a key role in managing your chronic RA, and research shows that new treatments are effective enough to prevent permanent damage2. The aim of current treatment is to more than halve the activity of RA over three months and free you of swelling and pain in your joints within six months2. These days, only 20% of RA patients under treatment still get significant flares, whereas 30 years ago that figure was 50%2.  It’s best to work with your healthcare provider in the beginning stages of treatment to get your RA under control and reduce any side-effects of your medication3

By managing your arthritis-related pain appropriately, recent research suggests you’ll feel more in control and more optimistic5. This is linked to lower pain sensitivity and gives you the best chance of adapting to your condition5.


1. Centers for Disease Control. Staff overview: 5 ways to manage arthritis. Available here:
2. Medical University of Vienna. Staff overview: Rheumatoid arthritis: 80% of sufferers can now lead a “normal” life. Available here:
3. Arthritis Foundation. Staff overview: Managing Emotions and Arthritis. Available here:
4. Mayo Clinic. Staff overview: Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness. Available here:
5. Goodin, B.R. and Bulls, H.W. Optimism and the experience of pain: benefits of seeing the glass half full. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 17(5). 2013