The 10 Best Places to Live with RA
Learn how a change of place could be beneficial for your joints.
Have RA? Run Away
Imagine feeling like you’re encased in rubber and everything hurts to move. That’s how Dr. David Goddard, chief of rheumatology at Downstate Long Island College Hospital, describes rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The autoimmune disease, which affects over 2 million Americans, causes joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. In some cases, it can lead to bone damage and deformity.
Chronic pain and potential deformity is enough to make you want to run away! But where should you run to? Click through the slideshow to learn about the 10 best places to live with rheumatoid arthritis.
New York City, New York
Pedestrians, bodegas, taxis…New York has a lot of everything. Rheumatologists are no exception. According to the US News & World Report, a stunning 17 percent of the nation’s top arthritis specialists practice there.
When you’re coping with RA, a rheumatologist is invaluable. “That’s the individual with the skills to help you manage the disease,” explains Dr. Goddard.
Your rheumatologist can help you find the right combination of medicines to treat your RA, and can coordinate care with other specialists, like physical and occupational therapists.
Walk Score awarded Australia’s largest city a perfect score of 100.
While walking benefits everyone, it’s especially helpful if you have RA. The American Arthritis Foundation recommends 150 minutes of walking each week. Sound daunting? It’s easy to walk 20 minutes per day when you can walk to the grocery store, coffee shop, and park.
Walking helps to maintain a healthy weight, which eases stress on your joints. It also strengthens the muscles around your joints, which can reduce joint pain and inflammation.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, this West African nation has the lowest rate of smoking in the world.
Not only is smoking a known cause of RA, a cigarette habit can also exacerbate the condition. In some patients, RA can cause inflammation of the lung sac. Smoking can increase this inflammation. What’s more, joints need as much oxygen as they can get to function properly, but smoking starves them of oxygen.
Nutrition nuts love to sing the praises of the Mediterranean diet.
While the Greeks might not have been considering RA when they first started cooking, the foods that they eat are beneficial to RA sufferers. Starring whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and garlic, Mediterranean meals runneth over with omega-3 fatty acids.
According to Dr. W Hayes Wilson, chief of rheumatology at Piedmont Hospital, “there’s good evidence that omega-3 oils are helpful in treatment of inflammatory diseases.”
If you have ever slipped into a hot tub after a grueling workout, you understand the restorative power of hot water.
“Heat releases stiffness in the joints,” explains Dr. Goddard. In fact, research shows that soaking in hot springs benefits patients with arthritis.
Located along the “Ring of Fire,” Japan is renowned for its numerous hot springs. According to Smithsonian magazine, these springs have “attracted the weary since the days of the samurai.”
Go ahead—jump in! The water’s fine.
With a 90 percent chance of sunshine every day, Yuma is the sunniest spot in America.
Sunshine provides a host of benefits for RA sufferers. Vitamin D, which comes from sunlight, may help prevent bone density loss. This is vital for those with RA, since both the condition itself and the drugs used to treat it can decrease bone density.
Where better to learn the ancient art of tai chi than in its birthplace?
Studies have found that this ancient form of exercise, which involves slow, controlled body movements, may reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, the exercise has proven so helpful in improving range of motion, enhancing balance, and reducing stress, that the Arthritis Foundation now offers a certified tai chi program tailored specifically to arthritis patients.
Salt Lake City, Utah
A recent survey that ranked the most and least stressful places to live placed Utah’s capital at the top the list of America’s most relaxing locales. Salt Lake City has low crime rates, high living standards, and a pristine environment.
For patients with RA, it’s important to reduce stress. Dr. Wilson explains: “stress can be an intensifier of pain.” That is, if you’re feeling anxious, it can increase the amount of pain you feel. Thus, keeping your environment as stress-less as possible can reduce your arthritis pain.
Looking for a delicious way to control your RA? Head to the kingdom of Camembert!
That’s right, it’s been proven. The French are tied with the Greeks for the title of highest cheese consumption. In both countries, the average citizen eats 55 to 73 pounds of cheese per year.
So what does this have to do with your RA? A recent study found that vitamin K2–a vitamin common in soft cheese–may help strengthen bones.
The secret to a decent night’s sleep? Living in Portugal.
According to a recent study, which surveyed sleep habits in ten countries, the Portuguese slept the longest each night (8 hours, 24 minutes). Furthermore, they reported fewer sleep problems—such as interrupted sleep and daytime fatigue—than many of their counterparts.
Doctors recommend that patients with RA get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. This gives your body time for essential rest and recuperation.
Don't Go Just Yet!
There you have it: 10 great places to escape to in order to mitigate your arthritis pain. But don’t pack your bags just yet! While environmental factors and lifestyle changes can improve symptoms, they should never be used as a replacement for medical treatment.
If you have RA, it’s important that you talk to a doctor to weigh your treatment options, which could include medication, therapy, and surgery. With the help of your doctor, you’ll find the treatment that works best for you.