Starting your day can be slow going if you’re troubled by morning stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But you can take steps — some before you even get out of bed — to wake up your joints and face the day.

The morning stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis is pervasive. A review of research published in January 2014 in the journal BioMed Central Musculoskeletal Disorders found that 89 percent of people with active RA experience morning stiffness. It even affected 81 percent of those whose rheumatoid arthritis was in remission.

“At the heart of the problem is prolonged joint inactivity, something that’s unavoidable while you’re asleep,” says John M. Davis III, MD, a rheumatologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Your body’s natural circadian rhythms, which can cause a nighttime surge of inflammatory cells that can trigger early morning joint inflammation, are also to blame.

Helpful Hints for Your Morning Routine

Dr. Davis says some people with rheumatoid arthritis describe morning stiffness as a feeling of being trapped in a 90-year-old body or a freezing or locking up of the joints. “Stiffness makes performing the simplest of morning tasks more difficult and often dictates the morning routine,” he says. Some people put a pot of coffee on, take their morning dose of medication, and then take a long hot shower, which often helps to lessen the stiffness, he says.

Morning stiffness was a major problem for Jessica Gottlieb. Getting herself and her kids up and ready in the morning was tough, so she enlisted help. “I set up a carpool with a neighbor,” she says. “She drove the kids to school in the morning and I did afternoon pickups. This way, when I got out of bed, all I had to do was supervise breakfast and get them out the door.”

Gottlieb also suggests using evenings to prepare for the next day, easing some of the morning rush-hour strain. She makes lunches, loads school bags, and places her own essentials right by the door. And she conserves her energy whenever possible. “If I don’t need to go anywhere in the morning, I don’t get dressed with the kids,” she says. “If I have somewhere to be, I try to be showered and dressed before I wake them up.”

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Tips to Minimize Morning Stiffness

Use these tips to create your own personalized routine for managing the morning stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Take your meds right after you wake. If you take medication to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, take the morning dose as soon as possible after waking up, Davis says. Keep your medication and some water on your nightstand so you don’t even have to get out of bed first.
  • Set the alarm early. Gottlieb adjusts her thermostat to kick up the heat about 30 minutes before she has to get going in the morning; she sets her alarm for that time, too. That half-hour allows time for her joints to warm up before she has to get moving.
  • Warm up your mornings. In addition to her medications, Gottlieb has other essentials within arm’s reach on her nightstand: a heating pad, warm socks, mittens, and a book to read while she’s loosening up her joints in bed. Before taking her morning shower, she uses the heating pad in bed and puts on the mittens and socks to warm up before she leaves bed. “My feet feel like my bones are made of glass in the morning,” she says, “but if they’re warm, I’m better off.”
  • Exercise. Start your morning by performing some gentle range-of-motion exercises to stretch and loosen your hands, wrists, feet, and any joints especially bothered by morning stiffness.
  • Get adaptive. To ease the strain on painful hands, try using adaptive devices like wide-gripped utensils to help you prepare and eat breakfast.
  • Ease into activity. Don’t push yourself at the start of your day. “Pacing activities or breaking up tasks in the morning can help with getting things done in a more tolerable way,” Davis says.

Davis stresses that working with your doctor is your most important strategy — he or she can help you find the appropriate medications to get rheumatoid arthritis under control and help lessen morning stiffness.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

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