Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Having rheumatoid arthritis may lead you to believe that life is all about pain. Frequent or even constant excruciating pain affects everything you do. Medicines help but the pain never goes away.
Coping with pain is not just about avoiding or even enduring it. There are positive steps that let you control the pain instead of letting it overpower you.
You can live with rheumatoid arthritis. By keeping it in its place.
Understanding Arthritic Pain
You deal with arthritic pain by understanding there are several types.
- Acute pain from inflammation. This is the pain that comes with a flare, familiar to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
- Pain from joint damage. Over time, the disease damages the joints, causing pain even though your arthritis itself is inactive.
- Exacerbation of pain. Living for a long time with rheumatoid arthritis is stressful. Emotional exhaustion can make the pain seem severe.
Most patients will experience all of the above. Such a complicated and overwhelming condition requires an all-inclusive approach. Contact the Arthritis Foundation to find your local chapter and sign up for educational programs that help you learn
- The causes, mechanisms, and effects of pain.
- Life-management and pain-management.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and other pain-reduction techniques using the mind.
The onset of pain is your signal to act on it, not just to bear it. While you cannot eliminate pain, you can help yourself cope better. Find out which of these pain management methods work for you.
- Medicines. Take your pain medicines on schedule, rather than wait until the pain really intensifies. Severe rheumatoid arthritis pain usually requires maximum doses of NSAIDs, although side effects must be considered. If you can’t stand the side effects of conventional medicine, a safer natural arthritis remedy is also available.
- Meditation. Escape from stress; relax your mind. Learn the meditation and relaxation techniques that help relieve pain.
- Distraction. Keeping your mind on the pain makes it feel worse. Stay occupied with hobbies and other pleasant diversions.
- Heat, cold, and massage. These tried-and-true treatments can provide quick and easy relief from mild symptoms.
Nurturing a Healthy Attitude
The primal response to pain is to feel frustrated, desperate, angry, and anxious: like a helpless victim.
These emotions, the spontaneous human responses to chronic pain, also naturally breed the negative thoughts that worsen any situation.
There is nothing positive about pain, but to live with it takes a positive approach. Know the strategies and commit to give them a chance.
- Cognitive-behavioral training. A psychologist or other mental health professional can teach you therapeutic self-help methods that can also help you avoid negative thoughts and emotions.
- Join a support group. Being with people who understand your pain makes you feel less alone and helpless.
- Exercise, believe it or not, makes your joints feel better, not worse. There are exercises even for those in pain. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist about how to build an exercise regimen into your treatment plan. Stick to it. Over time, the results can be dramatic.
- Eat a balanced diet; drink alcohol moderately; don’t smoke. Cigarettes, alcohol or unhealthy foods can seem comforting when you are in pain, but won’t help in the long-term. A healthy lifestyle definitely will.
Get additional support from a mental health professional. The vast majority of chronic rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who experience feelings of depression can benefit from professional help.