The million dollar question- How can we handle Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain? If I could solve this question, I would be a wealthy woman and could retire today. I have severe and aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis. Even with medication, I constantly struggle with RA pain not to mention fatigue. I was hospitalized in November because I was not able to walk because of leg pain. I talk a lot about diet, exercise, sleep and more. I put together a list of things that I do to try to keep my pain minimized. Every day, every week, this list is tweaked, changed, altered, modified, adjusted (well, you get the idea). I encourage everyone to talk to their doctor before making any significant modifications to their diet or exercise program.
- I do believe eating a healthy diet is a key component when trying to manage your RA pain. I am constantly experimenting with different foods and diets to see what works. I always go back to the Mediterranean diet because it just makes sense to me. I also have added two strange foods to my diet as an experiment. The first is Bird’s nest in rock sugar which I drink every day and the second is Kimchi. The Bird’s nest in rock sugar is thought to help strength your immune system and the Kimchi helps with digestion. It is too early to tell if this is working.
- Exercise is so important but it is finding exercises that make your feel better not worse that is the key. My doctor is not a fan of yoga but I am, especially since I do gentle yoga. The positions are more relaxing and not as stressful on my body as other exercises. I also enjoy swimming which is a great way to exercise your joints with low impact to the them. However, it is winter in California so swimming right now is not possible.
- I am terrible about getting my injection at the same time every week. It is supposed to be weekly, yet I am constantly missing it by a day. Taking your medication on schedule is important.
- My doctor is always chewing me out for waiting too long to take pain medication. She is an advocate of taking it at the start of the flare-up instead of waiting until the pain becomes intolerable. I recently went to the dentist for a deep cleaning. The hygienist told me to take an Advil right after the procedure and to not wait until my gums started hurting. I did this and did not have any pain. This was a good learning experience to take charge of the pain before it takes charge of you. I don’t do this enough with my RA pain. I like that… Take charge of your pain before it takes charge of you.
- I always forget what to use, hot or cold. I have a 50/50 shot at getting it right and always seem to get it wrong. My doctor has said basically use whatever feels better at the time. I have found that if my joints feel stiff that a warm, moist compress helps while if the joint is inflamed using an ice pack helps. Makes sense, right? What makes it hard is when the joint is both stiff and inflamed. I usually start off with warm compresses and if that does not work I will switch to ice packs.
- One of the biggest issues I have is that I do not make time in my day to relax. Oftentimes, I eat lunch at my desk. When I get home from work, I don’t unwind until almost time to go to bed. This is not healthy. I am going to say it again. This is not healthy. I have talked about being able to shut my door at lunch time and relax. I can do this but I often don’t because I have too much work to do. We really should make time every day to do an activity that helps us relax. Do something that you enjoy. Mediate for 15 minutes or so. Read a book. Take a walk. Putter in your garden. Walk your dog. Snuggle with your cat. Shut your eyes and just relax.
- I often feel that people do not understand what I am experiencing and lack sympathy for me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I just want them to understand me. They minimize my disease because they cannot see it. They forget that I am ill because I do not look ill. I have been thinking about joining a support group just to talk to people who have similar issues. I think validating my feelings and my pain would be helpful. I have even been thinking about talking to a counselor to help work through some of the frustration and anger that I feel at times. You know those feelings. Why me? Why can’t I go back to the way I was before? Why did this happen? Why don’t people understand? I am so tired of fighting this disease? One of my favorite places to go to on the internet is Pinterest. People pinning things under Rheumatoid Arthritis “get it.” They understand so it is like a built in support group for me. It is nice to know that other people have the same issues as I do. I think for me that is why I started blogging and created this website. It is a way to share my journey, lessons learned and to vent my frustrations. So, for all you reading this, thank you for being my unintentional support group and letting me vent.
**** Find a place inside where there’s joy, and it will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell****
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