Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finally - a good article on arthritis pain!

I'm not normally a big fan of "Arthritis Today" because I don't really feel like I learn anything new from their articles. I consider myself a pretty well-informed patient, so it takes a little more effort to teach me something new. Also, when it comes to pain relief, most of their things I've read are all about exercise, exercise, exercise. Which I agree is important - but I already do that every day! What else ya got for me?!

So, when I stumbled across the "Five Steps to Pain Relief" article today in my Facebook feed, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it does mention exercise. But it also mentions some other good, practical tips. Plus - it admits that there are many societal barriers to arthritis pain relief, including the health-care system itself. Woo hoo! Thank goodness someone finally admitted that! I know from some of your stories I've read and one or two of my own experiences, some days it feels like people (some doctors included!) are all like "oh - you're in pain; well, sorry, but that's just part of RA..." Um, yeah - not helpful!

I don't know about you, but sometimes it makes me feel better just to be acknowledged, to have my pain accepted as real - and not something that's just in my head. It can be hard with RA especially because the pain can be so sporadic. Some people might think, "How much pain could she really be in? She was walking just fine earlier." I know part of caring about what other people think is my own problem (self-doubt, self-esteem issues), but I don't think I'm alone in that...

So, anyway - it feels good to be vindicated, especially by a well-respected organization like the Arthritis Foundation. And, I think I've found a new technique I want to try. They describe "contrast baths," where you alternate cool and hot water instead of sticking with just one. When my pain is just all over, I often try taking a hot bath. Most times it helps, but sometimes it makes things worse so I get out of the tub (or have hubby pull me out!). Next time that happens, I'm going to try switching right over to cool water to see if that makes a difference.

What are your go-to pain relief methods?


  1. I ALWAYS add Epson salts and recently bath oils, and it makes a huge difference. I did the Epson salt thing on my own, but then my best friend, from Taiwan, did some research for me. What she found is that in Eastern Medicine, drs. think they know what causes RA, and its poor blood circulation. So as part of the treatment for RA, they prescribe epson salts and bath oils. I'm not sure why, but it TOTALLY works. If I miss a night, I can tell the next day. Just some FYI for anyone. I can't find the specific bath oils, but I find a 5.00 bottle of lavender with something else from Walgreens does the trick. It lasts about a month.

  2. I'll have to try that with my baths, too - thanks for the tip!

  3. I love contrast showers. I have been doing them the last few months and feel they help with circulation.

    I also do castor oil packs.

  4. Microwaveable heat packs have always been my go-to remedy for rheuma pain. Hot baths -- with those wonderful Epsom salts or other herbal concoctions specifically targeted at sore joints and muscles -- are great, too. I have to say that none of these has ever completely relieved my pain, but it does soothe it while the heat is applied and for a short time afterward. Cold, on the other hand, just makes my rheuma pain feel that much worse, so I avoid it.

    The AT article was decent, if not particularly eye-opening. Great for people new to the disease, but I think us old-timers have already been there, done that. ;)

    Hope you're feeling good, VW.

  5. I would love to be able to take a bath again, haven't been able to for years. Short showers or sponge baths is the best I get. For me pain meds, bed and a heating pad. Cold packs make me feel so worse.

  6. I know I'm a Johnny Come Lately to your blog. I was newly diagnoses with RA following the birth of my daughter last August. I probably had extremely mild symptoms prior to that, but got the flare about 6 weeks after she was born. But on a related note, I'm a practicing Physical Therapist.

    In school we discussed all the modalities (heat, ice, ect) used to help with all types of pain. Didn't think much of them despite using them for my patients, but when I was diagnosed, I immediately asked my rheumy doc for OT services Occupational therapists typically work with hands, which were my worst areas since they interfered with caring for my daughter. I found that paraffin baths were great with the added benefits for hands that didn't chap this winter.

    I've also found that massage and mild stretching works well when I get that tight feeling during a flare. I'm careful to not torque my joints to keep them in good condition, but some vigorous joint mobilizations (a technique a licensed therapist can perform) can really help. Needless to say, I'm a proponent of therapy to help with the pain, leaving the disease management to the docs.


I welcome your comments and experiences! If you have any questions, I will try to get back to you as soon as I can.