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Rheumatoid Arthritis: 11 Alternative Therapies To Ease Your Pain (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 11/29/10 12:40 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:15 PM ET


If you've got rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the single best way to fight the disease is with medication. Still, as effective as RA drugs are, they can't do everything.

Several non-drug treatments out there can help you where medication can't. And exercise is at the top of the list, according to Sharon L. Kolasinski, M.D., a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Even though the prospect of exercising may seem painful, the right kind of activity can help prevent RA-related pain and disability.

Here's a roundup of a few other therapies that may be worth a try.


Exercise
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“Exercise is really critical for everybody with arthritis,” says Sharon L. Kolasinski, M.D., a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. “Arthritis causes you not just pain; it causes you to use your joints in a way that stresses other structures. It’s really important to maintain flexibility and strength. The only way to do that is to exercise.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. She recommends choosing an activity that you enjoy, and not overdoing it. Options include walking, aquatic exercises, biking, yoga, and tai chi.

Exercise has other benefits for RA patients, too, Dr. Kolasinski adds. RA increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, and weight-bearing exercises can help keep your bones strong. Physical activity also heads off depression, which can plague anyone coping with a chronic illness, including RA.


More From Health.com:
Coffee, Alcohol and More That May Affect RA
20 Gifts for Adults or Children With Arthritis
10 Ways Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Body
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Filed by Rachel Martin  |