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Handling Rheumatoid Arthritis During the Holidays

Any suggestions on how I can get through holiday parties and meal preparations with rheumatoid arthritis flaring up in my hands?


“Because stiffness and swelling in the joints of the hands are common discomforts of rheumatoid arthritis, patients with RA can be challenged by tasks such as cooking, chopping vegetables and handling pots and pans,” says Francis Williams, M.D., a board-certified physician specializing in Rheumatology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “While there is no known cure for RA, treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms enough for you to fulfill your holiday expectations.”

At the first sign of symptoms, Dr. Williams typically recommends using anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen because they pose the fewest side effects and can be bought over the counter.

“If a patient needs stronger medication, we have other options,” he adds.

Dr. Williams says medications to reduce more severe pain are also available, but these drugs can cause unpleasant side effects and must be prescribed very carefully.

“In the early stages, RA tends to affect the smaller joints in the wrists, hands, ankles and feet,” he says. “As the disease progresses, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, jaw and neck joints can also become affected.”

In combination with doctor-monitored medications, patients can also do their part to help relieve symptoms.

“Gentle but regular exercise, while maintaining a healthy weight range, can help strengthen muscles and relieve pressure on joints. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen,” concludes Dr. Williams, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s “Gentle but regular exercise, while maintaining a healthy weight range, can help strengthen muscles and relieve pressure on joints. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen,” concludes Dr. Williams, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Summer Creek Clinic, Meyerland Plaza Clinic and Main Campus locations.

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Francis Williams, MD, FACR

​I believe that by listening to patients and using the appropriate tests, we can work together to come up with the right diagnosis and successful treatment plan.