Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pain and Fatigue Management on World Arthritis Day

Today is World Arthritis Day.  In honor of the event, I wanted to share a few of the ways that I manage my own pain that comes from RA and Fibro.  We all know that no matter what kind of pain meds we are given- it just doesn't completely knock out the pain.  That means we all have to find ways to manage the pain- and fatigue- and sharing tips is a great way to find things we hadn't thought of before, so here are mine:


Heat, heat and more heat!
In the morning- while my coffee is brewing- I run moderately hot water and soak my hands in it.  This alleviates the stiffness and the pain enough to grab that coffee.

Wrapping my hands around the cup- not the handle- radiates the heat from the coffee right into my joints. 

Heating pads - of course- are my dearest friends on many, many evenings. 

I can't say enough about Thermacare.  I can wear them to work and have them working on me all day long.  And no- I don't stick to the body part listed on the box- they can be modified to whatever you need.  My particular favorites are the ones that they claim for "menstrual pain" because they will stick to the inside of your clothing and stay right at the place you need them.  I should have bought stock in them years ago.

Massage- if you can afford a professional massage- it makes a world of difference.  If you cannot afford a professional massage- look and see if there is a masssage therapy school in your area.  It would actually be great experience for the students to learn how to work with a chronic pain patient- the important thing is to speak to the instructors first so that they can oversee your care.  You also do not want to hesitate to speak up if something does not feel right when they are working on you- it's the only way for them to learn. 


Obviously the first thing I have to say is- learn to listen to your body!  If your body says it's time to stop- STOP.  Pushing through will only make it worse.  I have to admit- I am the worst about this- but I am learning. 

I am a huge fan of naps.  If you have the time and it won't mess up your normal sleep cycle- just do it!

Take some quiet time every day.  You don't have to have a huge chunk of time- even 15 minutes just to sit quietly, maybe put on soft music, maybe lose yourself in a good book- but just sit in a chair and let yourself relax.  The most important thing is to stop thinking about your to-do list or your bills, your appointments or whatever else is pulling at you.  Let it go during your quiet time.  It will really refresh and rejeuvinate you!

Find something that will help you get out of "work" mode and into "bed" mode at night and make it a routine.  For me, it's not unusual to see me in pajamas very soon after I get home at night.  Changing my clothes into my comfortable pajamas makes the transition feel real.  I take my pups for a walk at between 7:30 and 8 every evening.  After that walk I either take a nice hot shower or have a hot cup of tea.  These things send a signal to my brain that the day is ending.  I find that when I don't do these things it is much, much harder for me to turn my brain off and when I get to sleep when I go to bed.

All of these things help me to manage my pain and fatigue- and I am always on the look out for new, non-medicated, ways that other use.  So if you have tips- please let me know!  I hope one of these is something that may help you as well. 


RA Journeys said...


I stumbled across your blog through another RA blog. I also have rheumatoid arthritis and fight the pain and fatigue on a daily basis. I am working as an advocate for RA awareness and funding for research. I am working to build my blog and to build a list of RA blogger links from my site. I'd like to link your blog to mine if that's okay. Also if you're interested, you can check out my blog and follow my personal journeys and my work with advocacy.



Wren said...

Excellent suggestions, Jules! I always hated washing dishes when I didn't have a dishwasher (and back then, my hands weren't constantly flared up with rheuma, either!), but now I really like hand-washing small things or much-used pans, etc. by hand because I can keep my hands in that nice, hot water for a while. An excuse! I also like holding my coffee cup in both hands, letting the warmth radiate into the sore joints.

Another great way to focus heat on a sore joint is by using a Kaz heat pad. The thing is filled with a sort of clay, and you heat it in the microwave. It holds the heat for about an hour. When I don't feel like being tied down with the cords on an electric heating pad, or when I go to bed and want warmth on a part of me, the Kaz is my go-to helper.

You've already got "attitude" down as a way to deal effectively with rheuma and fibro pain, but I'll just reiterate it here: How you think about your pain can make all the difference in how much it affects daily life and even how much it hurts. Sometimes, this pain is cumulative, and we tend to try to ignore it and move on without thinking of ways to deal with it in a positive way. When we don't bother with that, those many "small" pains can add up to one big negative that colors everything.

Thanks for such an encouraging and uplifting post. You're frequently on my mind; I hope you're doing well today and every day.

Jules said...

Hi Michelle- I have added you to my blog stream- when I get time this weekend, I will add you to the blog roll as well.

Wren- I miss you! I feel like I have no time these days to breathe. I read your blog as soon as the post comes through on my blackberry.

Still Smiling said...

Hi there! Love the suggestions. I notice a really warm shower seems to help loosen up my stiffness very quickly. I've never heard of Thermacare but will be looking into them thanks to you.

I'm a follower now. Stopping by from http://throughpainandsmiles.blogspot.com