This is a guest post by Stacey Philpot from chronicallywhole.com
When I began experiencing the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, the hot swollen joints, the morning stiffness and inflammation, the fluid surrounding my joints, I attributed them to other preexisting conditions.
The pain felt unbearable at times. It was hard to focus on anything else. I’d crawl into my bed and try to lie as still as possible because moving created a ripple effect of pain throughout my body.
When the symptoms hung on for months, wearing me down, I was advised to see a pain management specialist. He quickly noted the swelling and inflammation in my fingers. My lymph nodes were exploding, something I had grown accustomed to, but was of concern upon examination.
When I returned for my follow-up, the results were in. All of my markers for rheumatoid arthritis were positive. I followed up with a rheumatologist where the diagnosis was confirmed.
I knew absolutely nothing about rheumatoid arthritis, including how to properly spell it in order to perform a Google search. Once I’d cleared that hurdle, I joined every online support group I could find and began asking the same questions in each one: How do I get the swelling to go down? How do I make the joints move again? How do I deal with the pain?
While everyone’s body will respond differently, here are some tips I’ve found helpful along the way, whether your pain is from rheumatoid disease or other inflammation.
1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens
Diet matters more than we realize. When we’re in pain and seeking comfort, it can be easy to reach for convenience foods. However, this is when our bodies need us to eat with the end goal in mind. Let’s eat with the goal of less inflammation before us. Easy and tasty foods like strawberries, blueberries, almonds, and nuts will help us reach that goal.
2. Heat the swollen and/or inflamed joint
Whether you use a heating pad, electric blanket, sit in a warm bath with Epsom salts, or use a hot water bottle, heat on the area (for no more than twenty minutes at a time) can bring tremendous relief.
3. Listen to music
Perhaps consider creating an “in pain” mix list that relaxes you, helps you think about things you are grateful for, or reminds you of a fabulous trip you took. Music is a wonderful tool for distraction as well as soothing. Put it to work for you in whatever fashion you prefer!
4. Create a view
If you’re in a flare that makes getting out prohibitive, you’ll want to create a view that is positive and soothing. Where will you be spending most of your time while you recover? Invest in the space thoughtfully by placing meaningful, special pieces within your sightline. What reminds you better days are coming? What gives you more strength for the fight? That’s where you’ll want your eyes to fall on these days.
5. Try turmeric
Many people make turmeric tea, others sprinkle a bit of powder on their food, and still, others take it in supplement form. While the taste is subjective, many celebrate its natural anti-inflammatory capabilities.
6. Ice the affected joints
Icing the joints (for no more than twenty minutes) will reduce the swelling. Frozen vegetables wrapped in a dishcloth are perfect for this (and a easy, healthy addition to dinner when you’re finished.)
7. Exercise, even though it hurts
It’s vital to keep the joints moving. Small, rowing motions can help relieve the muscle tension built up around painful joints. Light exercise, with plenty of time for recovery will keep us moving without doing more damage.
No one wants to hear pain and inflammation may play a long term role in their future, however, with these tips at your disposal, along with the ones you’re sure to discover along the way, nothing will be able to keep you down for long.
Do you use any of the tips above to manage your pain? Let us know what works for you in the comments below.