The most common and prominent symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is morning stiffness. Rheumatologists consider morning stiffness that lasts at least an hour a key sign of RA. Although the stiffness usually loosens and goes away, it can take some time.
Here are eight things you can do to gently ease morning stiffness:
1- Take pain or anti-inflammatory medications an hour before getting out of bed in the morning. Keep a small snack by your bedside so that you don’t take the medication on an empty stomach.
2. Exercise in bed:
By the time your alarm rings, the pain medication should be working. But don’t get up quite yet. Stretch gently and do some range-of-motion exercises. It will help warm up your sleepy muscles and loosen those creaky joints.
While you’re still under the covers, lie on your back. Stretch your upper body first, moving your joints gently through a comfortable range of motion. First, turn your head from side to side, loosening your neck. Then stretch the following joints, first on one side and then the other:
Then do the same with the joints in your lower body:
Stretch and move your joints as much as you can, slowly and gently. When your joints feel less stiff and painful, you should get up.
3. Hit the showers
Taking a warm bath or shower is one of the best ways to help relieve morning stiffness. Heat causes the blood to move to the surface of the skin. A warm bath or shower will flush and warm your joints along the way.
4. Put the dryer to work
Before you get dressed for the day, pop your clothes into the dryer for five minutes. Use the highest heat setting. Then go make your coffee, pour your cereal, or put an egg on to boil.
When the dryer beeps, get your heated clothes out and put them on. The warmth from the dryer is soothing and will help to loosen up your stiff, achy joints.
5. Eat a good breakfast
Morning is here and you’re running on empty. Your body needs fuel!
Eating a light but nutritious breakfast can help to ease morning stiffness. An egg or yogurt with whole-grain toast, or a bowl of hot or cold whole-grain cereal with milk or soymilk. Any one of these choices will give your body the energy it needs to get started.
6. Bring the heat
Warming salves or lotions can help to ease stiff, sore joints. Massaged into the skin over the joint, the warmth is penetrating and can last for quite a while.
7. Move your body every day
Walking for 15 or 20 minutes a day strengthens the muscles that support your joints. Stretching and moving your joints through simple, gentle, range-of-motion exercises helps to keep them from getting stiff and weak.
8-Make time for yourself every morning, every day, and consider learning to meditate as a way to reduce stress. Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious, painful disease. To lessen the stress of coping, stop and focus on breathing every now and then.