Preventing Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease.
There is no known way to prevent it, because the exact causes are still
unknown. However, there may be ways to reduce the chance of developing severe
joint damage after an RA diagnosis.
Get Help Early
If you have any symptoms of RA, see a doctor as soon as
possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early, aggressive treatment can delay serious
side effects of RA. It can also reduce the risk of developing serious joint
damage down the road.
According to Mayo Clinic, gentle stretching and strength
exercises can reduce RA pain. They can also decrease bone loss, a potentially
serious side effect of RA.
However, talk to your rheumatologist or physical
therapist about developing an exercise program that is safe for you. Exercising
during a flare-up can cause pain or injury. High-impact exercises, like
jogging, can also put you at risk.
In general, you should rest during flare-ups to prevent
further damage. Then you can exercise in between episodes to maintain joint
flexibility and function.
According to the CDC, smoking significantly increases
your risk for developing RA. A history
of smoking is associated with a 1.3 to 2.4 times increased risk of RA. It’s the
one risk factor for the disease that is in your control.
If you’re a smoker, quit today. Quitting smoking will
greatly reduce your chance of getting RA later in life.