Arthritis pain management is something you can learn in order to enjoy a better quality of life.
It's something you will have to work at and like any new thing you will have to learn a set of skills and then practice them until you master them.
Have you noticed how some people overcome terrible illness and disabilities and go on to inspire others?
You only have to look at the athletes that took part in the paralympics this summer to see what I mean. They were not going to be held back by their limitations. They found a way around them.
Then you get people with lesser problems that seem to give up on life. The difference is their management style.
Being a good manager means working with others, discussing problems and identifying solutions to overcome them. Arthritis pain management is an ongoing undertaking and can be very complex depending on the severity of your limitations. But if you have a management plan that you can follow the success of arthritis pain management will be assured.
My arthritis came on very suddenly, overnight actually, as the result of a virus. For a few weeks I couldn't walk without holding on to the
furniture around the house. I despaired of never being able to walk unaided again but by setting a few goals I was able to overcome it and you can too.
With me my goal was to be able to enjoy going on walks around my neighbourhood again.
With someone else it may be that they want to lose weight
so that they can receive a hip replacement.
Someone else may want to become more socially active. In each case the goal is one that could take several weeks or even months to accomplish.
I started by walking for five minutes down the road and back very slowly. Gradually going further and further and extending the amount of time and my pace. Sometimes it was hard and other times it was easier. But I kept trying to add small improvements every time I went out until eventually I could enjoy walking again.
Write your goals down and start by setting out some small achievable steps and gradually extend them. Keep checking your results.
For instance if you're trying to lose weight and you have a week when you don't lose anything then don't give up, try to identify why and then try again by making adjustments until you see some loss.
With arthritis pain can occur for different reasons. Arthritis pain management will help you identify the activity that aggrevates the pain and then you can try and adjust the activity to lessen the pain.
For instance we all know that inactivity causes stiffness and pain when we eventually try to move, so avoid sitting in the same position for long without moving. Even if you just get up and stretch a few times.
If you find that an activity causes pain after a certain time, learn to shorten the period of time you undertake the activity. Have a break and go back to it later rather than trying to do it all in one go.
For instance, writing a letter for 5-10 minutes might cause stress in the fingers but no pain. Continuing to write for an hour might cause pain that will last 2-3 days. Better to leave it after 10 minutes and go back and finish it at another time.
Increasing the load on joints will also increase the likelihood of pain. Excess body weight, carrying heavy loads such as grocery bags,
pottering in the garden for too long, trying to clean the house all in one go are all potentially stressful activites. Knowing your limitations
and learning not to overdo things is key to arthritis pain management.
Fatigue is a common symptom of arthritis. It can result from inflamed joints, or from depression. Too much activity is another reasons for fatigue.
For some people running five miles a day is not enough to tire them out but for someone with arthritis climbing a full flight of stairs may cause fatigue, or standing on the bus in rush hour. Arthritis pain management is about knowing your limits.
It's very tempting on a good day to overdo things that can then put you back into the cycle of pain and fatigue. Recognize that if you're tired you need to have a rest. Don't feel guilty if you have to take a nap in the afternoon in order to have the energy to go out socially in the evening. Learn to read what your body is telling you.
Stiffness often occurs when joints are maintained in one position for a long time, for example, prolonged sitting. Pain can also contribute to stiffness.
The natural reaction to a painful joint is to keep it bent or immobile. While this offers temporary relief, it eventually makes the joint worse and can result in losing the movement in the joint completely.
Similarly overdoing an activity and ignoring pain, stiffness and fatigue will eventually cause someone to give up the activity causing the cycle of pain and stiffness to continue.
Someone who is practising arthritis pain management will learn to adjust the activity that causes pain, stiffness or fatigue. Managing is one way to remain active and independent.
People who live successfully with arthritis develop ways to make their daily lives easier. They work around problems by creating manageable schedules, plan ahead and try out tips and gadgets that may make life easier.
For example do you enjoy cooking but find it difficult opening jars required to complete a recipe. There isn't always someone on hand to open them for you. However there are lots of mobility gadgets available that make the task easier. I've got several for opening jars, bottles and ring pull cans similar to this one.
I love a coal
fire in the winter but I find I can't carry my brass coal bucket when
it's full of coal. I solved the problem by carrying the coal in a lightweight plastic bucket and then I transfer it in situ to the brass one, rather than do away with my lovely coal fire.
If you have a problem carrying heavy shopping then buy yourself a shopping trolley to transport it in. It seems an obvious thing but there's always that feeling that your too proud to be seen using one of those 'trolley things' if you still consider yourself to be young. Better that than to suffer for days after a shopping trip.
Alternatively shop on the internet and have it delivered. It's worth paying a little extra than risking days of pain.
I have a friend who has arthritis who loved going to the movies but began to find it particularly painful sitting for a couple of hours.
She practised her arthritis pain management by experimenting with different positions, timing her medication so that it was at it's optimal level, changing the angle of her knees, always sitting in an aisle seat so she can stretch her legs at intervals.
All of which helped to make her visit to the movies more enjoyable. She could have given up going but she enjoys it. Much better to find a solution to the problem.
If you enjoy gardening but are finding it difficult consider investing in some gardening tools that have extended handels that will help you avoid bending.
The easy kneeler is a handy little
gadget that allows you to lower yourself down and push yourself up
without putting a strain on your back. It can also be turned over and
used as a seat to work in raised flower beds or planter boxes.
If you do get carried away and blow your arthritis pain management keep some of the many topical creams handy that you can rub on aching joints after a nice warm bath to help alleviate pain and stiffness.
Links for further resources:
The Arthritis Care Organization website http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/
This website in the United States http://www.arthritis.org is excellent and gives the addresses of many arthritis organizations around the world.
Remember that websites are accessible for everyone on the internet and you are not limited to your own country.