There really is no fun being in pain, especially arthritic pain. You know it just is not going anywhere and you sometimes have to just grin and bare it.
According to Arthritis Ireland almost 1 million people in Ireland are affected from it so it really is a big problem for us. Damaged joints, stiffness, severe pain, inflammation and deformity of joints are the most recognisable symptoms but there are plenty more.
I had the pleasure of getting septic arthritis at just 7 months old and spent a month in traction for a dislocated hip. So please remember, this is just not an "old person's" problem. Juvenille arthritis is very real. All was going ok until I became teenager and started to suffer with severe growing pains. (I know I'm still petit but I was even smaller!!)
Carted off to the "specialist" I was told to "DO NOTHING EVER AGAIN, NO MORE EXERCISE AND BECOME A SECRETARY." I kid you not! This was 1980's Ireland and this was the best advice he could come up with from all his years of training.
LIVING WITH ARTHRITIS
Thankfully I didn't listen to him, not only that I did the complete opposite. Thank God I have my own mind and tend to do the opposite of what I am told! So I learned to live the best life I could while dealing with a dysfunctional hip and very often excruciating pain.
Move, move, move , move and move some more! People with arthritis will complain of feeling stiff and sore first thing upon waking but it eases out as the morning goes on. So what to do? Well depending on your age, fitness etc you need to find a movement pattern or sport that works for you. Easy things you can do include doing some gently movement in bed before you get up. This will all depend on where your arthritis is, how severe it is and how much mobility you have in the affected joints. Please talk to your Physical Therapist, Physiotherapist or Doctor about suitable exercise for your specific condition. You can find a class in local area that suits your mobility and fitness ability. I have found YOGA to be the best pain killer of all. I am not the bendiest Yoga Teacher that ever walked this earth but I am the best advocate!
EAT YOURSELF PAIN FREE
"You are what you eat!"
Well for arthritis this is especially true and a hugely important factor to living pain free. Greens, greens and more greens. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, celery, broccoli, bok choy and swiss chard for example. We need lots of antioxidants to mop up free radicals. Leafy greens are also high in calcium with is great for bone preservation.
Oil to lubricate joints, I eat an avocado a day. I try to eat oily fish too but I really am trying to be vegetarian/ vegan as much as is possible. Personally I stay away from farmed fish as much as possible, like battery chickens they don't have much goodness or taste. There are of course fish oils, glucosamine chondroitin and other joint health care supplements out there. Talk to your doctor or health food store for best advice.
Winter warming herbs and spices are essential and that's why they are in season for Autumn and Winter. Ever wondered why at Christmas time everything has cinnamon on it? Well mother nature knew we needed it. Try ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, cloves and garlic. I can't remember exactly where I got all this information to reference it for you, it's just an accumulation of knowledge from years of being in pain.
Google "BEST FOODS FOR ARTHRITIS" there is tonnes of information out there.
Needless to say there are also plenty of things to avoid, sugar being enemy number one along with processed foods and alcohol. Google "FOODS TO AVOID FOR ARTHRITIS."
There are also great chefs and nutritionists with oodles of knowledge and great recipes which you can follow via social media.
COPING WITH BAD DAYS
Physical bad days make you cranky too. So it's not just your body thats hurts it's your whole psyche. There will be bad days. That's life. I can tell you when there is going to be rain and dampness without looking at the weather forecast. Recently I had the worst and most painful day I had had in years, it coincided with storm Ali. While the experts might pooh pooh this link between damp weather and pain, ask any arthritic how their body reacts in damp and cold environments compared to warm and dry climates.
They will say things like: "the damp is in my bones."
"I can feel the bad weather in my bones"
Rheumatoid arthritis have often complained to me that the swelling is worse and the pain is unbearable in bad weather.
So preparing for Autumn and Winter is essential for us. Ensure you have hot water bottles to hand. They are great for heating up stiff joints while relaxing in the evening when movement for the day is over. I have my microwave teddy buddies who smell of lavender too!
You can apply hot patches before you go outdoors too. Hot creams such as tiger balm, deep heat etc are really convenient too. They do have a strong smell however and remember to wash your hands.
Warm clothes, hot shower, electric blankets, hot bath, saunas and jacuzzis can all help. Find what works for you. It's about keeping the area warm and mobile. If your sitting down for hours make sure you get up and move about. Turn on some music and have a dance.
I go for massages fairly regularly. They boost circulation and helps to flush out inflammation. It is also lovely, relaxing and a really great way to be kind to yourself. Your body needs TLC and it really will benefit from a helping hand.
GO AWAY! Ever wonder why I go away to the heat in December? Well firstly it's a great time for me to be away work wise but more importantly, I need the sun and heat. Winter in Ireland is just too long. It is too damp and dark for me. I am definitely a hot house flower! I appreciate that I am very privileged to be able to jet off to the winter sun. I hope you can too.
Talk to others who are affected and see what remedies they have found to work. There are no two people on this earth the same so while they might recommend something you will have to trial and error for yourself.
RESEARCH: There is so much help out there both online and via arthritis organisations. (Arthritis Ireland) Beware of diagnosing yourself with something much worse over the internet! Read all the helpful stuff, prevention, what works, exercises, stories from other sufferers. Leave out all the negative stuff. Stay positive and know there are people much worse off than you so be grateful for what you have.
I NEED A CHECK UP!
Do keep in touch with your doctor. Arthritis is degenerative so unfortunately all we can do is try to prevent acceleration of wear of tear. If your pain is unmanageable or you feel you are getting worse please do get it checked/ monitored. There are new and improved treatments being tested all the time. There are medical breakthroughs and people working around the clock to find cures. I hope to keep my pain at bay naturally for as long as I can but I am realistic too. There may need to a surgical intervention (hip replacement) in time or a day when I have to pill pop to contain the excruciating throbbing.
LOVE YOUR CREAKY BODY
I know it's hard but the more you beat up on yourself the more you will hurt. You need to find the positives in your life and focus on them. Have an attitude of gratitude. If your best friend told you they were in pain what would you say to them ? Would you be kind, sympathetic and offer help or would you tell them to suck it up?
Your body is the only one you have and that's the way it is. You have to accept all of it. You are more than just an arthritic. Nurturing and taking care of your most prized possession are essential to your total well being, physical and mental health.
"Listen to your body."
If you need help with your arthritis please feel free to contact me for a consultation.
Whether you need a massage, help with specific movements or an exercise plan I am hear to help you.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor. She has recently qualified as a Personal Development Coach. Based in both Rathfarnham and Dundrum, South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independent, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including Les Cingles du Mont Ventoux & La Marmotte Sportive. She is an accomplished audax-er having done numerous 200km and 300km routes. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.