Written by Serena R. Schad
Knowing you will live with rheumatoid arthritis every day for the rest of your life can be an extremely overwhelming thought. Not only do you suffer with physical pain and limitations, but the emotional stress can really take its toll on you. It is crucial to help ease RA pain as best we can each day. This article will give you tips and tools that will help you cope with the daily struggles that rheumatoid arthritis causes.
Biofreeze – Of all the arthritis topical treatments on the market that I have personally tried, I would say without a doubt that Biofreeze worked best for me. This over the counter topical pain reliever can be purchased from Amazon.com at a very reasonable price. It comes in the form of a spray, a patch, gel, or a roll on ointment! The moment I begin to feel pain in my joints, I apply Biofreeze, and within minutes the pain begins to dissipate. It truly is “magic” in a bottle. One of the other great things I love about this product is that it won’t leave a slimy or sticky film on your skin, and there is only a slight minty odor. If you haven’t given this product a try, please do! I recommend it to everyone I know, and have gotten a lot of positive feedback from other fellow Biofreeze users!
Meditation – Taking just 20 minutes a day out of your hectic schedule is a proven way to relieve stress, lower your blood pressure, help relieve pain, and speed up your metabolism. Find a quiet place that makes you feel comfortable. Light a scented candle, dim the lights, and play soft music. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a beautiful, serene place. Practice breathing slowly in and out, and really concentrate on releasing negative thoughts and energy out of your mind and body. Part of my daily meditation includes keeping a journal. I think many of us keep our fears and concerns to ourselves, because we don’t want to burden others with our “problems”. Writing down your innermost thoughts and feelings allows you to pour your soul onto paper without worrying about criticism from others. No one understands you better than yourself.
Exercise – I know what you are thinking. I am in too much pain to exercise! No one is saying you need to run 5 miles every day, or be a slave to the gym. However, taking a 20 minute walk just 4-5 times each week can greatly improve your overall health. It will help you lose weight, keeps your joints from becoming stiff, and most importantly, it keeps your heart healthy! Try taking a yoga class at your local health club as well. You will learn different breathing techniques, and numerous ways to stretch and strengthen your muscles and limbs.
Diet – What foods you put into your body are to vital to your health and to the progression of your rheumatoid arthritis. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken are not only good for you, but they will help keep you from packing on the extra pounds. Loading your body full of sugar and fat will give you no energy, and is a sure fire way to gain weight. The more weight you carry, the more your joints will became inflamed. There has also been a lot of new information as of late about eating a gluten free diet. Elizabeth Hasselbeck has written a book called “The G Free Diet”. It’s a great learning tool for those of us with RA. It gives a variety of different food suggestions, and talks in depth about studies that have been done all over the world. People with auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, noticed less pain and swelling after consuming no gluten in their diet. Don’t forget to take a multi-vitamin as well; that will give you the nutrients that you might not be getting from your diet alone.
Support Group – Finding others that share the same hardships that you do is a truly eye opening experience. Knowing that you are NEVER alone, and that you always have a group of friends to turn to, can bring an incredible amount of inner peace to someone battling RA. Depression is something all of us RA folks deal with from time to time, but having friends that understand what you are going through can help with feelings of being alone. Support groups are great for posting different topics and questions as well. There is always something new to learn. What better way than from others with rheumatoid arthritis.
IMAK arthritis gloves – These special arthritis gloves were created by an orthopedic surgeon and can be purchased at amazon.com. These gloves come in a variety of sizes to fit each individuals hand, and are made from a soft polyester material. They have open fingertips which allow for good grip, easy touch and mobility. These gloves offer mild compression which enhances circulation, and helps relieve pain and swelling. These are a must have for those of you who use your hands a lot to tend to your garden, write letters, type, sew, or just for daily chores that need to be done around your home.
Ask for help – I run my own online support group, and mentioned to my online friends that I was going to be writing an article that would give tips to make life with rheumatoid arthritis a little easier. I asked them specifically to tell me what has worked for them. One of the top answers I received from everyone was the heading of this paragraph; ask for help. I think many of us are embarrassed to ask others for help with opening a jar, pumping gas into our vehicle, or even something as simple as helping us style our hair. Asking for assistance is perfectly okay. It doesn’t make you weak, and it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Would you mind helping someone in need? I am quite sure it wouldn’t bother you in the slightest. Surround yourself with positive people who understand your special needs. You will come across those individuals that don’t want to help you, or that seem to be frustrated with your limitations. Simply put, those people need to be cut from your life.
Buy a cane -I had a difficult time buckling down and ordering a cane for myself. Let’s face it, how often do you see a 26 year old walking around with a cane? I was more concerned about what others would think of me, rather than worrying about my own pain in my joints. The first time I ever used my cane was simply amazing! I was stunned at how much pressure and pain was taken off my hip and knee! And guess what? I don’t recall seeing anyone gawking at me or my cane! Fashionablecanes.com is where I purchased mine from, and I was pleased with the variety of canes they had to choose from. You can choose a folding cane for convenience, quad canes, or even a chair and seat cane! Have some fun with your purchase, and pick a pretty design you like too!
Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into your skin at strategic points of your body. Traditional Chinese theory explains that acupuncture balances the flow of energy throughout your body. Many studies have shown that continued acupuncture treatments help relieve arthritis pain. The procedure is painless, and has been described as a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Most insurance companies do cover the cost of acupuncture, however if you don’t have insurance like myself, the cost is a mere $40 per session.
Interested in becoming a writer for rachicks.com? We are looking for volunteers to keep the knowledge going to all our members. Interested individuals can email Niki by filling out the form below.