"); document.write('
Ad Choices Logo
'); }

Everyday Health Guest Columnist

Health Answers

What you need to know about common health issues

Rheumatoid Arthritis Weight Gain Risks: 5 Things to Know

rheumatoid-arthritis-and-weight-gain-risks-RM-1440x810

By Kori Dewing, DNP, Special to Everyday Health

Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) does not directly cause people to be overweight. However, people with RA may struggle to maintain a healthy weight or lose unwanted weight because they find it difficult to exercise to burn calories due to joint pain and fatigue.

Here are five smart weight management strategies that people who are living with RA should consider regarding their risks for weight gain.

1. Some Medications Can Cause Weight Gain

Prednisone often causes weight gain by contributing to increased appetite. Focusing on a healthy diet, with low fat proteins, high fiber foods and fruits and vegetables can help reduce the cravings. Talk to your provider about your medications. When providers warn their patients before starting on a course of prednisone and use the lowest dose medication for the least amount of time, the risk for unintended weight gain can be reduced.

2. Keep Track of Changes

If you start to gain weight, don’t ignore it. Your best resources include the scale and a qualified professional (such as a nurse practitioner, a doctor, or a registered dietitian) with whom you can discuss weight loss goals. Measuring weight and calculating body mass index (BMI) can help people living with rheumatoid arthritis develop a realistic and reasonable goal weight to help them feel better and move better.

Then, try to move more every day. Evaluate dietary changes that can be made to reduce caloric intake. Move more so you burn more calories than you eat. Measuring your steps with a pedometer can be very motivating.

3. You Can Make Exercise Easier

Exercise is an important part of the treatment regimen for people living with RA. Not only does exercise increase caloric expenditure and help people lose weight, but it is also important to strengthen the muscles that support affected joints. Aerobic exercise is also heart-healthy and can help to release pain-fighting, fatigue-fighting endorphins. Everyone with RA can exercise; the type of exercise, however, may need to be adapted according to individual physical limitations. Water exercises, yoga, walking, and resistance therapy with bands can be easily adapted and individualized. The Arthritis Foundation can help you find water aerobics or other appropriate exercise programs near you.

4. You Can Get an RX For At-Home Exercise Help

I often will write a prescription for physical therapy to develop a safe home exercise program. I suggest that if patients are worried about limitations or have been unsuccessful in the past starting a new exercise program, they should talk about this with their healthcare providers for guidance and recommendations.

5. You Can Make Eating Well Easier

If food preparation is painful, consider shortcuts. Choose pre-cut vegetables and meats or adapt to healthy recipes that take less stove top preparation like slow-cooker meals. If you need help figuring out the most important dietary changes to make, ask your rheumatologist for support. A referral to a dietician can help you develop a diet plan.

 

dewing Kori Dewing, DNP, works as a rheumatology nurse practitioner in Seattle,  Washington. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse  Practitioners (AANP) and the American College of Rheumatology/Association  of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP).

 

PHOTO CREDIT, TOP: Lawrence Manning/Getty Images

Last Updated: 1/13/2017

Comments are closed.