How to move: with rheumatoid arthritis

Activity encourages the body’s healing functions – ‘if you rest, you rust,’ a rheumatologist says – and every form of arthritis can benefit from exercise

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in and around your joints, causing ongoing inflammation and pain. Some people have arthritis in the small joints of their hands and feet. In others, the inflammation involves major joints, such as the shoulders and the hips.

Sometimes just getting out of bed and making it through the day with rheumatoid arthritis may feel like all you can manage. “But humans are designed to move,” says Dr Daniel Lewis, a rheumatologist and chronic pain specialist.

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