Though we tend to think of arthritis as a condition that sets in later in life, that’s not always the case. Unlike osteoarthritis — which is caused by wear and tear on your joints over time — rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can occur at any age. It can also impact more than just your joints, causing damage to body parts including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors aren’t entirely sure what triggers the autoimmune response that causes RA, but we do know that it affects more women than men.
There are a range of symptoms associated with RA, including joint stiffness (which is usually worse in the mornings or after a period where you haven’t moved much), fatigue, fever, loss of appetite and swollen, warm or tender joints. Like most conditions, each person with RA tends to have certain symptoms that are worse than others. In fact, approximately 40 percent of people with RA also experience pain in parts of their body that are not joints. In other words, if you’ve been diagnosed with RA and are noticing aching in parts of your body, it’s not your imagination — it could be the autoimmune disease at work.
For women with RA, not all treatments are created equal. For example, after my mother was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy, she had to stop taking her prescription medication and rely solely on other products to help with the pain and discomfort associated with her RA. We tried several different topical creams and gels, and found that this pain relief spray worked best for her — especially when combined with some of the other products included on this list that involved heat.
So whether you have RA yourself or you are caring for someone who lives with it, here are nine products real women with the condition swear by.
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A version of this story was originally published in January 2020.