What a Pain!
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What a Pain!

When I was a little girl, I remember watching the movie "Wizard of O"z.  The Tin Man had been standing in the field for a long time when Dorothy and her dog, Toto, came along.  He asked Dorothy for help getting down from his post.  But he couldn't move because his joints had rusted. So Dorothy got the oil can from the shed as he instructed her and she oiled his joints.  After a little bit, he was dancing!  Wouldn't it be great of that's all it took for your body to unstiffen and move?  Just a couple of squirts of WD40 and you're good as new?  Oh, wouldn't that be great?!?!

I know that I am in good company with millions of people with arthritis and fibromyalgia, among other chronic pain and fatigue disorders.  It was -26 degrees Fahrenheit here yesterday morning rising to a balmy 9 degrees mid-day.  That arctic blast made for an awful pain day.  I looked at Accuweather.com which has a migraine forecast tab and a + tab.  So I pressed the + tab to find "arthritis" on one of the choices.  Sure enough, it was expected to be a high pain day. It is helpful for me to look ahead and find out if such a day is on it's way for those who struggle with pain.  After teaching Arthritis Foundation water exercise and self-help classes, I have learned to conserve energy and tackle the important stuff with rest breaks between. Making bad pain worse can put me down on the couch if I don't watch out.

For arthritis, pain occurs as a result of damage to the joints that causes spurs and wearing of the cartilage.  For autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoariatic arthritis, the joints become inflamed. Inflammation (heat and swelling) is the result of the immune system attacking the joints. For fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, the nerves send faulty signals that cause the muscles, sheathing on the muscles, and connective tissue to believe that pain and fatigue is happening. Even young people can have these issues; it's not a matter of age. For those of you with autoimmune diseases and fibromyalgia, it feels like you have the flu that doesn't go away. For many, a bad day can become a horrible day! It is the bad day that needs special treatment.

Here are some of my secrets to making a bad day better:
The advice given here is not a substitution for proper medical treatment. Check with your healthcare provider before trying anything new.

  • If you take meds give them time to take affect before engaging in physical activity. Remember that pain relievers, such as Tylenol, and NSAIDS mask pain, but make moving more bearable. DMARDS help reduce the effect of your autoimmune disease.
  • Cold tends to make the muscles pull tight, causing joints to scream!Take extra time to warm up before exercise. Wear warm clothing.
  • Move! Active range of motion exercises and walking lubricate the joints with synovial fluid causing them to move more freely.
  • If you are on a special diet for your health condition ( i.e. gout, celiac), don't cheat!!!Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and phytochemicals are very important. Keeping down inflammation starts at your plate.
  • Alternate work with rest breaks.Tackle the important stuff and let the rest go.
  • Make stretching a part of your daily routine to reduce pressure from tight muscles and maintain range of motion for those ouchy joints.
  •   Avoid weight lifting onbad days and stick to endurance of light cardio with low impact and no ballistic movements. Water exercise is very helpful, if it is available to you.
  • By evening out the weight of what you carry, you reduce the pressure on sore joints and avoid adding to the damage.
  • Don't lean! When people lean on shopping carts to avoid pain in the feet and legs, the back and hips take on stress causing damage over time. Instead, stop and sit or learn to shift your weight periodically to give joints relief.
  • Losing ten pounds can significantly reduce stress on lower body arthritis.Inactivity can lead to weight gain, but being careful with what you eat will help on bad days.
  • Spend time with friends. Isolation makes it easy to notice milder pain, but distractions such as talking with friends or taking walks with a group helps take your mind off your pain.
  • If you are low on vitamin D, get some sunshine. Sitting by a window for a few minutes everyday, even if it's cloudy can help.  If your doctor has told you to take a vitamin D supplement, take it faithfully.

May the Lord turn your ouchy day into a better day!

Many blessings to you!

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