Challenges in Managing and Preventing Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Yvette C. Terrie, BS Pharm, RPh


US Pharmacist. 2021;46(3):42-48. 

In This Article

Nonpharmacologic Measures

Nonpharmacologic measures for RA include rest, application of heat or cold to relieve pain or stiffness, stress-reduction techniques, counseling, and patient-support services. The use of splints to protect and strengthen joints is recommended. Patients should be encouraged to consider physical therapy and exercise, when feasible, to sustain joint mobility, decelerate loss of muscle mass, and strengthen the muscles around the joints with movement exercises that are less stressful for the joints, such as swimming, yoga, and tai chi.[12–14,32] Additionally, applying heat- and cold-packs before and after exercise minimizes painful symptoms.[12,14,32] Patients should be encouraged to join support groups so that they can learn more about RA and how to cope with both the physical and emotional aspects as well as gain more insight into controlling this progressive disease.

The CDC recommends these self-management strategies for RA pain:[38]

  1. Inquire about arthritis management strategies from various patient-education resources.

  2. Remain active and implement exercise into daily routine, if feasible (research demonstrates that physical activity reduces pain, enhances productivity, and delays disability for adults with arthritis, including RA).

  3. Maintain a healthy weight, and lose weight if needed.

  4. Maintain routine healthcare visits with a rheumatologist.

  5. Protect joints from injuries, and use supportive devices such as braces or splints if warranted.

More information can be found on the CDC website.