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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"Unflame" the Inflamed

Rheumatoid Arthritis is not constant. It comes and goes. There can be quite a long period between the activity of the disease. It's difficult to tell how long. It can vary from days to months and even years. I am blessed with the latter right now and I am so thankful! But...I expect/know it will be back and I am prepared, although I don't look forward to it. I never know how I come out of it and that is somewhat scary:-)

Over the years I learned what works best for me. First thing I do is make sure it is the RA coming back and not me having overdone it (which I tend to do, so I scare myself to death each time, haha). That determination takes me usually about a week. When the pain and stiffness are still there it's clear. First thing I do is take more Ibuprofen, to fight the inflammation and to ease the pain, so I can still be active and not loose all the strength and/or function. I do however slow down substantially, for the risk of overdoing and aggravating the inflammation is great.

I was told to keep those aching joints warm. Well guess what? Didn't work at all for me. It got worse. Which I kind of found logical, for heat only stimulates. But a lot of people seem to benefit from warmth, so try it first. I decided on my own (yep, I knew better) to cool it. And that did the trick. The pain and the swelling got less. Best way to cool it is by ice pack, the reusable ones you can buy in any drugstore. You can keep those in your freezer and use whenever you need. Be sure to wrap them in a kitchen towel or another piece of cloth (protecting yourself from freezer burn, haha).

Keeping some activity or light exercise going works well too. Just make sure it is all in moderation and does not put too much pressure on your joints. Take long rests in between and do not rush. Nice and easy does it. Yes, it is hard to do but you will be grateful for it later. My experience is that the less I do, the more my joints stiffen up and the more function I loose. That results in a much longer recovery period afterwards. Of course you will not get all back that you lost. RA takes its toll. But you would be surprised how much you can recover!

Of course your Rheumatologist will adjust your medication and prolly also can tell you what to do or not to do. Listen carefully, try it and do not be afraid to ask questions. And keep in mind...This also shall pass:-)

Psalm 145:8
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.


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