Monitoring And Discussing Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Pain is pretty subjective and variable, says Dr. Schulman. How people perceive and tolerate pain may differ a lot from person to person.
Some patients with little joint tenderness may experience a lot of pain, and some people with really bad inflammatory arthritis dont experience any pain, she notes.
This is why its important to monitor your pain and be open with your rheumatologist about the level of your pain, your personal threshold for pain, and whether the pain seems new or different from your past RA pain. Pain is very tricky for everyone involved, says Dr. Domingues. There is no lab test for pain, so we really need to have a good honest doctor-patient relationship to gauge pain.
Tracking your RA pain can help you better understand your condition. Join ArthritisPower, a patient-centered research registry, to learn more about tracking your RA. .
Having an open dialogue with your doctor can help them identify the causes of your pain whether RA inflammation or a co-occurring condition is the likely culprit and come up with a treatment plan. Treatment is very different for fibromyalgia than for rheumatoid arthritis than for osteoarthritis, notes Dr. Domingues.
What specifically does your rheumatologist want to know about your pain?
Keeping a pain diary can help you clearly communicate the details of your pain to your rheumatologist. Here are some questions to consider when monitoring your pain prior to your next visit whether in-person or telehealth:
Why Do Other Peoples Perceptions Matter
Many people think of arthritis as an old persons disease or something that causes minor aches and pains. At the other extreme are those people who believe that nothing can be done for arthritis and that those who get it can expect to end up in a wheelchair. You may be accused of making too much of your arthritis or viewed with pity by people who think youre on the verge of becoming totally disabled. You may feel put down if youre told what you cant do by an uninformed public or a well-meaning family member who just wants to protect you.
The negative perceptions of others may be among the most difficult challenges you have to face. When family and friends misunderstand you they may not be able to provide the support you need.
Misconceptions held by employers and the public can make it more difficult for you to work or get the services you need.
But you dont have to accept other peoples ideas about you or your illness. Learn as much as you can about arthritis so you can have a realistic attitude about your condition. Then deal with peoples misinformed notions in a positive fashion. At times you may want to ignore comments from misguided friends. At other times you will want to explain your condition as soon as you become aware that someone has misconceptions. In a matter-of-fact way talk about arthritis and how it affects you. By educating others you can help promote a better understanding of arthritis.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
While rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently, some common symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods.
- Pain and stiffness in the same joints on both sides of your body.
More than 1.3 million people in the U.S. have RA. It typically starts to develop between the ages of 30 and 60. Some people may have joint symptoms develop over the course of a few years, while others may have symptoms that progress rapidly.
You May Like: Does Stress Affect Psoriatic Arthritis
How Long Do Ra Flares Last
The length of time an RA flare lasts can vary widely, from a few hours to several days or weeks. If a flare does not improve after 7 days, it may be a good idea to contact a physician. The doctor may suggest adjusting the persons medication.
Before a RA flare begins, a person may experience fatigue or feel that something is not quite right.
During a flare, symptoms tend to increase until they reach their peak. As the peak passes, the symptoms will lessen and may completely disappear.
The frequency and severity of flares can vary widely between individuals. With treatment, a person may spend months or years in remission, while others may experience flares more frequently.
RA flares can be predictable or unpredictable. A flare will occur when something triggers an increase in disease activity, which means that levels of inflammation go up.
Predictable flares usually occur in response to one or more triggers.
Some flares have no apparent trigger, and a person may be unable to identify why it started. This can make them harder to avoid.
In 2017, a involving 274 people with RA who attended a clinic in Turkey found the following appeared to worsen their symptoms:
- emotional or physical stress
Managing The Pain Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Understanding the causes of pain in RA can go a long way to helping you to find the best ways to manage your pain.
Pain is an extremely personal experience. While this review will try to explain some of the simple mechanisms of pain and the current treatments for pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients, such an overview represents a view based on an understanding of the evidence-based literature on current RA therapies and an individual rheumatologists experience it cannot fully explain every individual patients pain problems. All pain that is present for a reasonable length of time, no matter what the underlying cause, can be associated with poor sleep patterns and depressed mood. The stress associated with RA-related job loss or relationship problems all impact on how we cope with pain. Pain involves not only the nerves at the site of pain but the nerve pathways leading to the brain and special pain pathways within the brain itself. Very simply, pain is a complex phenomenon.
You May Like: Does Chiropractic Help With Arthritis
What Can I Do To Manage My Pain
Pain may limit some of the things you do, but it doesnt have to control your life. Your mind plays an important role in how you feel pain. Thinking of pain as a signal to take positive action rather than being scared or worried about it can be helpful. Also you can learn ways to manage your pain. What works for one person may not work for another, so you may have to try different techniques until you find what works best for you.
Here are some things you can try:
Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of self management courses that can teach you these techniques. You may also find it useful to see a psychologist to learn other mind techniques to help you cope with pain.
Ways To Manage Arthritis
There are a lot of things you can do to manage your arthritis. The day-to-day things you choose to do to manage your condition and stay healthy are self-management strategies and activities. CDCs Arthritis Program recognizes five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms.
Practice these simplestrategies to reduce symptoms and get relief soyou can pursue the activities that are important to you. These strategies can even help you manage other chronic conditions you may have, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.
Use these 5 strategies to manage your arthritis at any age.
Join a self-management education workshop, which can help you learn the skills to manage your arthritis and make good decisions about your health.
How can a self-management education workshop help me?
Learning strategies to better manage your arthritis can help you:
- Feel more in control of your health.
- Manage pain and other symptoms.
- Plan and carry out valuedactivities, like working and spending time with loved ones.
- Improve your mood.
- Communicate better with your health care provider about your care.
Learn about CDC-recognized self-management education programs that improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.
Stay as active as your health allows. Some physical activity is better than none.
Unsure about what kind of activity is safe?
The focus of arthritis treatment is to
Also Check: Can Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Tailbone Pain
Other Pain Management Techniques
If a joint is very swollen and painful, your doctor or therapist may suggest you use a splint to rest the joint . This helps reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may recommend that you wear the splint during certain activities all day or only at night. This depends on how severe the swelling or pain is.
Getting a good nights sleep restores your energy so you can better cope with the pain. It also rests your joints to reduce the pain and swelling. Only you know how much sleep your body needs, so get into the habit of listening to your body. If you feel tired and ache after lunch every day, for example, take a brief nap. This can help restore your energy and spirits.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try relaxing quietly in the afternoon rather than taking a nap. Here are some other tips to help you sleep better:
- take a warm bath before going to bed
- listen to soothing music or a relaxation tape
- spend some quiet time by yourself before you go to bed
Do not take sleeping pills unless your doctor recommends them.
Massage and topical lotions
Massage increases blood flow and brings warmth to the sore area. You can massage your own muscles or you can ask your doctor to recommend a professional who is trained to give massages. If you have arthritis in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or fingers, you may not be able to give yourself a massage.
Tips for safe massage:
Read Also: Arthritis In Lower Right Side Of Back
Sleepand Restto Manage Ra Flares
If you’re like the average person, you’re not getting anywhere near the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night. But lack of sleep may trigger a flare up and leave you feeling even more exhausted.
Rest is important, too. It signals your body to slow down. Work in a little restand enough sleepevery day. Your body will definitely thank you.
Although it’s difficult to predict when an RA flare-up will flare, these tips may help prevent future flares. And if you do have a flare-up, you can significantly help reduce its effects by taking extra good care of yourself.
If you have frequent flare-ups or an incredibly intense flare-up, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor and let him or her know what symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
Sign Up for Our Newsletters!
You May Like: Can Bone On Bone Knee Arthritis Be Reversed
Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Management
While the overall goal of rheumatoid arthritis therapy is to prevent disease progression and further joint damage, pain management is a necessary daily practice for patients, in order to maximize their quality of life. Chronic pain can adversely affect a patients ability to work, participate in physical and social activities, and can generally interrupt day-to-day life.
Despite medications and aggressive forms of treatment, many rheumatoid arthritis patients experience ongoing pain and stiffness. The reality is, it may never completely go away. But there are specific things patients can do to manage pain and limit its impact on their lives.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It usually affects the lower back and develops through wear and tear. As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it is typically more noticeable when you bend or twist your back. Past back injuries may also contribute to the development of degenerative arthritis of the spine.
Osteoarthritis of the spine usually affects the facet joints between the vertebrae. It is also known as facet joint arthritis, facet joint syndrome and facet disease. In some cases, degeneration of the spinal discs may contribute to facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.
When these degenerative changes occur in the neck, this condition is called cervical spondylosis. Arthritis in the neck doesnât always cause pain, and many people have no noticeable symptoms.
Dont Miss: Why Does Psoriatic Arthritis Hurt So Bad
You May Like: What To Do If You Think You Have Arthritis
What Do I Do If I Think I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
If youre experiencing joint pain and inflammation, its important that you discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Getting a diagnosis as soon as possible means that treatment can start quickly. Early treatment will help you to control the inflammation, manage pain more effectively and minimise the risk of long-term joint damage and disability.
If youre diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or suspected of having the condition, you may be referred to a medical specialist known as a rheumatologist for further investigations and medical treatment.
Questions For Your Doctor
- How do I know if my joint pain is caused by rheumatoid arthritis?
- Does RA run in families?
- What medicines would work best for me, and what are the side effects?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent flare-ups of RA?
- What are the pros and cons of surgery to treat RA?
- Does RA affect my life expectancy?
Also Check: What’s The Best Thing For Arthritis
Best Shoes For Arthritis In Feet
Shoes for arthritis are another common way to relieve pain. As EveryDay Health explains:
Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes is key. Shoes should be wide enough so that they dont press on any bunions or calluses. Skip the high heels because they put more pressure on the balls of your feet. Arch support is essential to stabilize joints that are moving more than they should, which can happen with arthritis, explains Frisch. The toning athletic shoes that are popular these days can be a good choice for foot health.
The Arthritis Foundation has given their Ease of Use Commendation to the Gravity Defyer brand. These arthritis shoes help take some of the pressure off your foot and are available in multiple widths, depending on your foot.
It doesnt stop at the shoes. Talk to your doctor about arthritis compression socks that can also help increase circulation and reduce pain. You can also use orthotics, such as pads in your shoes, to help relieve pressure from growths.
Read Also: Pain Relief For Arthritis In Hands
Tips For Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Management
Other than the pain itself, rheumatoid arthritis can cause many other problems and disruptions in life. There are some things you can do to stay healthy and reduce your pain. These are in addition to your regular treatments.
Here are some tips to help you with your rheumatoid arthritis pain management and coping with the disease:
Dont smoke: Smoking can have serious health consequences on rheumatoid arthritis patients. Smoking causes inflammation, which can complicate these disease and cause more pain.
Be conscious of your use of joints: Try reducing the stress on your joints by being conscious of your daily activities. Picking up items and turning door handles can add pressure to your joints causing them to feel sore. Look for ways to adjust your daily habits and limit the aggressive use of your joints.
Talk to your doctor and rheumatologist: If you still feel pain despite treatment, or you notice new pain, be sure to communicate with your physician and your rheumatologist. There may be additional pain relieving options available.
Seek emotional support: Deal with any stress or trauma you may feel by joining a support group of other rheumatoid arthritis patients. Professional counseling may also help improve your mood and help you to remain positive.
If you continue to experience chronic pain, there are several options for you to try. Talk to your rheumatologist about rheumatoid arthritis pain management options that are right for your individual case.
Read Also: Which Glucosamine Is Best For Arthritis
Dont Let Stress Get The Best Of You
When you spend your life fearing pain and avoiding activities that might trigger a flare-up, you end up making things worse. Its easier said than done, but try not to let the fear of pain hold you back when you are feeling your best. Ive learned to keep my stress levels in check and adopt a more easygoing approach to life, says CreakyJoints follower Kel Johan. No sense in making myself feel worse and causing more flares for things I cannot control.
Fear itself is debilitating, says Dr. Alade. Most of the time, the pain wont be as bad as you think, so for once proving yourself wrong is a good thing.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you notice symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, or you are concerned that you may have rheumatoid arthritis, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist who is a doctor that specialises in joints. It is important to act quickly. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to experience permanent joint damage and deformity.
You May Like: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Chest Pain
How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
Read Also: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Hands