Points to remember about Arthritis

 

This is the last week of May-Arthritis Awareness Month, join in the efforts to increase arthritis awareness and encourage someone you know with arthritis to take the leap and engage in safe and effective physical activity programs to improve their physical function and overall quality of life.

Arthritis Awareness Month is the perfect time to share information because it will generate impassioned dialogue among members of our patient communities

My sincere effort in raising awareness is for my story to resonate with the community and inspire my fellow arthritis warriors to live an active life despite an arthritis diagnosis. Yes we can!

  1. Plan ahead.Every single day organize your routines so you minimize movements that are difficult or painful. Listen to your body.
  2. Keep moving.Avoid holding one position for too long. When working at a desk, for example, get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Schedule exercises through the week.
  3. Discover your strength.Put your strongest joints and muscles to work. To protect finger and wrist joints, push open heavy doors with the side of your arm or shoulder. To reduce hip or knee stress on stairs, let the strong leg lead going up and the weaker leg lead going down.
  4. Ask for help.People with arthritis often worry about the possibility of growing dependent on others.
  5. Take advantage of labor- saving devices and adaptive aids.Simple gadgets and devices can make it easier to perform daily activities such as cooking, writing, or even getting dressed. Long-handled grippers, for example, are designed to grasp and retrieve out-of-reach objects. Rubber grips can help you get a better handle on faucets, pens, toothbrushes. Pharmacies, medical supply stores, and online vendors stock a variety of aids for people with arthritis.

 

 

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What were some of my lifestyle changes I had to make as an RA Warrior!

How RA affects my health; it’s as simple as that. My lifestyle choices affect all aspects of my physical well-being, and that includes my joints.  I constantly experience a struggle to determine the right balance of lifestyle habits in order to enhance my quality of life and to try to achieve a normal life, independent of my established RA.

(RA) is a health condition I have realised that has played several different roles in my life. Sometimes it is strong and angry. Other times it can be gentle and in control. It has a way of making surprise visits when least expected. Funnily it has a personality of its own. Keeping RA in check means finding a balance of medications and lifestyle changes that allow me to lead the live I desire.

RA not only influences my everyday life and work, but it also affects my relationships. The condition has an impact on many different parts of my relationships, and influence the roles I assume, the division of chores in the household, mutual family plans and leisure activities. All holidays and outgoings require planning including travel, movies or family gatherings. A few times I had to cancel my trips as I was not feeling too confident of my health.

I constantly find myself balancing between ideality and reality!

As a reminder, I am sharing what worked for me; this does not mean that it will work for everyone. I do not have any medical training other than living with chronic illnesses and pain for 18 plus years, yes but I know more than the new RA warrior who has just been diagnosed!

  1. Staying Active

Exercising for most will be the last thing we want to do when your joints ache, but I have seen through the years that physical activity alleviates joint pain and stiffness, increases joint mobility, strengthens muscles and improves my mental health.  I do at least a small amount of yoga movements every day. I do what I can to make sure the muscles in my body are able to help my joints work well and to protect them from themselves.

My prime mission is I always want my joints and my muscles to remain as strong as possible, hence I keep using them daily. The trick is to use them the right way.

I will vouch that these lifestyle changes, along with my medications, have assisted me in helping to achieve greater mobility and reduced pain.

  1. Always maintain a Healthy Weight

Always concentrating on my BMI and ensuring not to put any extra kilos through the years. As any additional pounds worsens my aches and pains.

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Concentrate on foods which assist to fight inflammation, strengthen my bones and boost my immune system. These include foods rich in inflammatory-fighting omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, olive oil; antioxidant-rich herbal teas; fibre-rich multi whole grains and beans; and vitamin C-rich citric fruits. Found myself to be allergic to some foods hence totally avoid them and feel better. Diet -based and lifestyle- based disease management is very hard.

  1. Constantly on the lookout for balanced Vitamin D levels

Avoid vitamin D deficiency as it can worsen existing arthritis symptoms. Not having sufficient vitamin D can lead to a pro-inflammatory result and can cause symptoms to arise or worsen. Hence always control it with regular blood tests and Vit D supplements.

  1. Manage my Stress

I always recognize what causes my stress and divert what I can. Schedule time for breaks, my hot baths, avoid people who antagonize me and give me negative vibes. Negativity is a no-no for me. My daily routine involves relaxation exercises including a few minutes of meditation, deep breathing and guided imagery.

  1. Fighting Fatigue

Resting my body is an important aspect when living with rheumatoid arthritis, especially during a flare-up. Dealing with the day to day pain and stiffness of RA during flare ups can be draining. Fighting fatigue is all about a balance between rest and activity and that is what I am on top of it.

  1. Always try Alternative Treatments along with my Medications

Over the years I have also relied on a combination of lifestyle changes, medications and alternative treatments to control my symptoms and prevent flare-ups. The addition of these changes and alternative treatments have helped to reduce my dependence on drugs and lower the side effects and costs of RA medications. It could be a massage therapy, herbal or essential oils, acupressure, NST, etc, I cannot pinpoint to one single medium, but I have never stopped my medications.

When we take steps to control our RA symptoms, we are at a lower risk of developing additional diseases and permanent damage.

Incorporating all the above into my lifestyle has helped me to not only live well—but thrive—with rheumatoid arthritis.

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RA Positive Hub – RA Tools & Tricks

 

RA Positive Hub will be sharing a few  shortcuts, tools, and tricks that might help you get things done with less pain and stress.

Maintaining wellness and achieving a sense of normalcy despite the presence of chronic illness emerges as an important goal of RA overall treatment among patients.

It will help you to conserve your energy, ease the strain on your joints, and stay organized.

PART A:  Resolutions are aspirational and subjective.

Most vital be realistic and set yourself against realistic goals.

Set goals

WE Arthritis Warriors should stop and evaluate our goals once we are aware what is at our disposal.

Never allow someone else dictate or tell you what goals you should have or not have. No one knows our body as much as you do.

When we set goals we can follow our dreams is a process, sometimes a long one, with side tracks and breaks

When we persevere, accommodating our own needs to move slower, to take pauses, but then reassessing and getting back to our path is possible. The only way to live with RA is to become as stubborn as a horse and refuse to stay down. We learn to withstand long periods of having to put your dream (and your life) on hold while we deal with our condition and its nonsense. During those times of flares and pain, we hone a single-minded focus by getting through each day. When it is over, when we are better and get our life back, we use that focus to pick up our dream and work on it some more.

Be very practical and keep room for changing short term goals on daily basis as we need to listen to our body on that particular day and to cope up we might need to readjust our plan for the day.

  1. Bodily experience of RA
  2. Achieving normalcy and maintaining wellness
  3. Social connectedness and support

Broad goals in this domain included functionality

Pain reduction ,Lessening of joint swelling and stiffness

Increased energy levels ,Mitigating the undesired impacts of medications .

Less often mentioned is the prevention of further progression of RA damage

Maintaining wellness and achieving a sense of normalcy despite the presence of chronic illness emerges as an important goal of RA treatment amongst us.

Watch out for the next article. Stay safe stay happy!

NEW TO RA ? READ ON…

When you’ve just been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), there’s a lot to process within. You may not be sure how to feel about this new marker, and you’re worried about how it’s going to impact your life. But at the same time, the diagnosis may put your mind at ease, as your doctors will finally be able to treat the condition that’s been causing your symptoms. As you begin to find your new normal with Rheumatoid Arthritis, these recommendations may help you steer more easily.

At the same time that you’re trying to understand the possible impact a chronic (ongoing) illness will have on your life, work and relationships, many questions come up about lifestyle changes, loss of job & independence, relationships, treatments and medications.

Though each person is different – one size most certainly doesn’t fit all – it is generally understood that good support can help you adapt to and thrive with RA.

Support is about relationships. It is to encourage , lift and strengthen yourself, it does not mean you are meek and dependable.

A number of researchers have found that positive or helpful support from close friends and family leads to lower levels of frustration and reduced pain levels in the person with RA

You are the expert on what you want and need. Give some thought to your internal and external resources, and identify who and what could help make living with RA easier for you. Then reach out to these resources, and ask for what you need. Life is a give and take, and now it’s your turn to amend your lifestyle for a better tomorrow.

Keeping in mind that even well-meaning loved ones and others may not be able to identify your needs, actively collaborate with your support network of partners, family members, friends, coworkers and communities to seek what you need to ease your journey with RA.

Support groups can provide an especially effective way to receive the emotional support and information you need to help cope with and manage your RA. Even people with good personal support networks can benefit from meeting with others who share similar experiences and the daily inspirational challenges of living with RA. Doing so will be good for your health!

Good Luck on your journey to regain wellness!

ACCEPTANCE IS THE KEY FOR NEWLY DIAGNOSED WARRIORS

If you are newly diagnosed RA Warrior, it’s easy to get stuck in believing that RA is all that stops you, the only reason you cannot do whatever it is you want to do. And although that may be true if you wanted to become a supermodel, mostly it’s a scapegoat that keeps you from dreaming new dreams, from finding joy in your life as it is. Everyone has limits, whether they live with a chronic illness or not, and the trick to finding happiness is to make the best of the life you have. Continue dreaming. Continue pushing for what you want. Go forward, not looking back to dwell on what once was. That is where you will find your happiness

It took me a long time to know that acceptance isn’t something you arrive at and stay there forever more. It’s something you work on, all the time.

I was very confused for a very long time, constantly caught up in what I couldn’t do. I focused on the “if onlys”—if only I didn’t have RA; if only I could continue working; if only life were different. In the darkest of times, the response from within me was: You have to learn to accept this.

The “if onlys” are ever-present and seep in through the smallest cracks. And then the “if-onlys” grow and escalate into unfulfilled desires. You let one of these wishes in, and it brings an entourage. And the more they pile up, the more depressed one can  become and the more you long for a different life.

WE need to learn to tame the “If only I didn’t have RA” thought process. That singular thought leads to an abyss that chews us up and drains our emotions.. If we open the door to the things we cannot have, the dreams we left behind, we begin to love your life less. So instead, every day one needs to  practice acceptance. WE can do it by choosing to be positive. When you are in the middle of an RA flare, talk to yourself saying its temporary and that you have innate strong skills to cope. We need to navigate  those “if onlys” so strong that they rarely get a foothold into our thought process.

The most important thing is not just to accept things but to meet the challenge. Life should be faced. If I am able to do something, then I have to do it.

My motto today is, I am able to do things and I am doing them, tomorrow I might feel pain, so I will not do anything. I am living like that, depending on what the illness allows me to do. This is my personal theory I have understood that I have my limits and I do not go beyond them… see if this appeals to you.

YOU SENSE THE SYMPTOMS, ACT SWIFTLY…DO NOT DELAY.

YOU SENSE THE SYMPTOMS, ACT SWIFTLY…DO NOT DELAY.

One thing I can vouch for is as with most ailments, early detection and diagnosis for RA are crucial for being able to treat symptoms, manage pain, and slow progression.  In my case an early diagnosis of RA helped me with an individualized treatment plan so that I can continue living a good quality of life.

One should be on the lookout for specific symptoms, such as morning stiffness (particularly in the small joints of the hands or feet) that doesn’t dissipate within about 30 minutes after getting out of bed, joint pain on both sides of the body and warmth and redness around the joints and the swelling, and stiffness along with fatigue, muscle pain weakness and worse joint stiffness after sleeping or prolonged sitting. Getting in and out of bed, bathing and drying yourself, running errands or doing chores, turning faucets on and off, tying shoelaces and other simple and basic activities.

Personally I have seen diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis may be delayed or missed because early symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches, and weakness, can develop slowly. They can also be easily attributed to other conditions, such as aging, excessive exercise, general malaise, influenza.

Some people seek medical attention only once the symptoms of RA start to have an impact on their daily activities, especially work. However, only seeking help once symptoms are severe enough to have an impact might lead to significant delays. Some might further want to try self-managing the symptoms first (e.g. using over the counter painkillers). If they wait to see whether their own remedies have an effect first, this again might mean delays of weeks or months. A lot of well-wishers advise a barrage of coping strategies and this results in a loss of peak treatment time.

The root of this delay is a widespread lack of knowledge. People with symptoms do not recognize that they might be suffering from the disease or what the consequences of delaying going to a doctor might be.

Another contributing factor I feel is people go to visit GPs who may not be well-informed about the disease and so not adept at picking it out from the hundreds of other musculoskeletal conditions they see, leading to repeat visits from patients and delay in referring them to a rheumatologist/specialist for a diagnosis.

For sure it’s not the patients fault but yes in today’s day and age ailment awareness is crucial for wellbeing for self and family!

Let’s share more information and personal experiences and spread the awareness mission far and wide.

A few basics of Rheumatic Disease

A few basics of Rheumatic Disease

Rheumatic diseases are characterized by inflammation that affects the connecting or
supporting structures of the body — most commonly the joints, but also sometimes the
tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Some rheumatic diseases even affect the organs.
These diseases can ultimately cause loss of function in those body parts.
There are more than 100 rheumatic diseases which exist.
Here are a few of the rheumatic diseases described in just a line:

  • RA- Rheumatoid Arthritis: This rheumatic disease destroys the lining of joints, causing
    swelling, pain, and stiffness throughout the body.
  • JIA-Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: This is one of the most common arthritis in
    childhood, this disease causes pain, swelling, and loss of joint function. Symptoms
    may also include fevers and rashes.
  • AS- Ankylosing Spondylitis: is the most common of the spondyloarthropathies —
    rheumatic diseases that specifically affect the spine — this often occurs in young
    adults.
  • OA- Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, this rheumatic disease
    destroys cartilage and bone, causing pain and disability.
  • PA- Psoriatic Arthritis: A form of arthritis that occurs in people with the skin disorder
    psoriasis, this painful disease affects joints of the fingers and toes, creating noticeable
    changes in fingernails and toenails.
  • IA-Infectious Arthritis: Some forms of arthritis are caused by viral or bacterial
    infections. Lyme disease results from the bite of a tick carrying specific bacteria, and
    it may cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness of joints.
  • Reactive Arthritis: This rheumatic disease, known as Reiter’s syndrome, is another
    spondyloarthropathy. Often, it's triggered by an infection in the bowels, urinary tract,
    or other organs. Symptoms include skin rashes, eye problems, and sores on the
    mouth
  • Fibromyalgia: This rheumatic disease attacks the muscles and tendons that support
    joints, causing pain, stiffness, and problems sleeping.
  • Gout: This disease is characterized by uric acid crystals in the joints — often the big
    toe that cause episodes of swelling and pain.
  • Lupus: Formally called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), this rheumatic disease is
    also an autoimmune disease. Lupus attacks the body’s own healthy cells and tissues,
    causing damage to joints and organs.
  • Scleroderma: The body produces too much collagen, the fibrous material that
    supports the structure of skin and other organs, in this rheumatic disease.
    Scleroderma also affects joints and blood vessels.

BE A PART OF SUPPORT GROUPS

BE A PART OF SUPPORT GROUPS

I have realized that seclusion is damaging to our health and it can be very easy to seclude ourselves when we constantly feel sick and sulky. Supportive friendships and relationships are fundamental to your wellbeing when you suffer from a chronic illness. Finding supportive and nurturing friendships is not a simple task especially when one is perpetually sick. This is something that does not happen overnight but your willpower alone will help you to grow friendships with likeminded people who are aware of the extent of your situations and also share your common interests. Finding a group of people who understand what you’re experiencing, who understand what it’s like to live with chronic illness and chronic pain, can be an excellent way to find the inner strength to face the challenge of your condition and live a fuller life

If you have a chronic illness such as arthritis, you know that dealing with chronic pain and other symptoms can often feel like an uphill battle. Some of you may find that your friends and family don’t fully understand what you’re going through, or may not feel comfortable talking openly with them. It can be tempting to shut yourself off and stay inside, and some days you may not even want to get out of bed. Unfortunately that kind of thinking only adds to your pain.

Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis can be both emotionally and practically challenging. Listening to others who have experienced similar situations is often re-assuring and can be helpful for you. So choose the good ones, and if you don’t have a support system, start cultivating one now. I vouch for it that it will help you tenfold as you deal with your medical problems. Just make sure you let the right people and the right energy in to your inner circle.

For the last 4 years I am a part of a Support Group and have to admit its added so much of meaning and purpose to my life. The group meets to learn and practice breathing, movement, and along with this we meet and share our conditions without any judgement and I have always felt the warmth of love and caring. We are women who have an indirect forum to talk about our struggles with people who understand what we are going through.  We share our personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies or firsthand information about our disease and treatments. We share insight and perspectives about the variety of treatments we have tried. Last but not least, we are women of different ages and walks of life, who were once strangers, have now become friends for life and celebrate small joys together.  We all have something in common with each other. Because we understand each other and what it is like to undergo the pain, we all are always willing to help and support one another.

Thank you my girl gang for being there for me ..my angels !