Making peace with pain?

WaitingPhoenix Member Posts: 18
edited 30. Aug 2017, 02:46 in Living with Arthritis archive
When I first had RA I thought I had damaged something in my feet and ankles and other joints as the pain and swelling was so severe. It took me a while to understand that there is no damage being done to my joints and they are surprisingly healthy. I started largely ignoring the pain and increased my activities and exercise again and I found that activity didn't make my pain worse or better. But since I went back to work 6 months ago I seem to have got scared. Work is so exhausting and my body often aches all over afterwards so I've got in the habit of 'resting' on my days off but I'm really sad about being inactive.

I'm wondering if I should just build up my activity on days off again? The pain clearly isn't going to go away so perhaps I just need to get used to it? Make peace with it as my constant companion? I feel like this would make me happier but I still have the fear that somehow it will make work even harder, despite the fact that I know activity didn't worsen my pain before. Don't know if that makes sense or if anyone else can relate?


  • dibdab
    dibdab Member Posts: 1,498
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It's a real dilemma isn't it....whether to plod on through or rest up. I think with RA you learn to cope with pain and to modify activities to enable you to do the things that are important. For me to do some exercise is a positive, it helps me to feel better about myself and serves to distract me from focussing on the tough stuff, also I know that in exercising muscles and joints I am helping myself by staying more active and strengthening the muscles that support the joints. I have recently started going to a local group called 'Easy Line Gym' where for an hour once or twice a week I can use adapted gym apparatus, meet new people and walk away sweaty but with a sense of achievement at having done something that isn't dictated by the limitations of the disease, as a bonus it has definitely boosted my sense of well being.

    Working with RA is challenging, not least because of the fatigue element, but maybe you could build in a kind of exercise you enjoy that isn't too demanding, swimming is good because the water supports your joints, or perhaps a bike ride or a good walk in the fresh air?

    Hope you find something that suits you.

  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    In my experience the pain has never gone away even though my disease is controlled by the meds I take; I began the meds too little and too late so joint damage began and has led in turn to OA.

    For me life became much easier to manage when I hurt all over so there was no longer such a vivid contrast between what hurt and what didn't. Every move I make hurts something somewhere and has done for years, I've gotten used to it and I no longer fight it with anger or resentment - it is what it is and this is what it does. I am naturally fearful of exacerbating matters but over the years I have learned when to stop - when I think I can do more is a good time! My energy resources are limited and I am much better at eking them out.

    Life was physically worse when I was working and obviously became more 'comfortable' when I stopped but I was able to manage for around seventeen years so that wasn't too shabby. It was a boon that I was self-employed, that made a real difference as I was the one in control. I have recently begun working with a personal trainer, I used to love cycling, dancing, playing tennis and walking but one by one they fell away as the arthritis progressed. I am now working with a personal trainer and can already feel the difference in my leg muscles - I'm not doing too much at the moment, stretches and short unaided walks, but the benefits are noticeable. DD
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,910
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It's a very real and ongoing dilemma - when to exercise and when to rest. I have a real admiration for those who manage to hold down a job with any form of arthritis. It wasn't an option for me as there were no decent DMARDS on offer in my early years of it. That was when I had small children though and ploughing on regardless wasn't an option just a necessity.

    What physios always told me re exercises was to take my joints through the range of movement exercises daily even when flaring. But very gently and slowly when flaring. I'd guess you get plenty of strengthening exercises at work. Maybe you could aim do a little ROM stuff at weekends. In daily life we use some muscles a lot but others probably not so much. These are the ones we need to make an effort with.

    However, the fatigue is also a big part of an inflammatory arthritis and needs its own space. Why not ask for referral to a physio to get some specialist advice from someone who knows your own situation?
  • petals
    petals Member Posts: 217
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I too faced this dilemma.

    Since diagnosis I have tended to collect a few more kilos each year due to not exercising enough, although I did continue working.

    Through trial and error I have now discovered what is an acceptable level of exercise and what is too much.

    Swimming, as diddab suggested is good as long as you take it easy. Hubby and I treated ourselves to an elyptical training machine last Christmas. This is great for me as you can adjust it to fit your own level of comfort (I have it set to easy, down hill lol) and because you font even have to leave home to use it, you can stop immediately you get tired.

    On the other hand, I went for a bike ride recently and the slight uphill gradient put strain on my knees and it took three weeks for the swelling to go down.

    So, I think exercise is good but you have to find out what works best for you.

  • WaitingPhoenix
    WaitingPhoenix Member Posts: 18
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello and thanks for your replies,
    I have seen a physio but she said I was doing the right things already.
    I'm going to try to do a little more walking on good days and start doing RoM stuff again more regularly and see how I get on.
    WP xx

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