Community Ideas: Managing RA Pain
One of the most common symptoms of RA is pain throughout the body. Dealing with such pain can be extremely challenging, so we asked our Facebook community: Do you have any tips for managing pain in specific locations - like hands, feet, knees, and so on? The responses were generous and creative! Check out what our community had to say...
Hands and Wrists:
- I wash dishes in really hot water and it helps.
- When my hands ache I wear fingerless gloves and put hand warmers inside of them.
- I have a TENS unit for my hand which is helping.
- Wrist braces, especially for thumb pain
- Compression gloves
- Hot wax. A friend gave me a wax warmer for my birthday. Same wax as nail salons.
- I wash dishes and juice oranges for breakfast. The first two halves are very painful, but my wrists and hands are good for the rest of the day if I juice a few of them and wash up in scalding water.
- Ice ice baby for me. I wrap my wrists up and I'm in heaven or sleeping in 5 minutes.
- A microwave heating pad for my hands. They are easy to make with rice.
- Laying on a heating pad and drenching my shoulders in any kind of ointment like Icy Hot. And having my boyfriend softly massage them.
- I use Capzacin (with the sponge applicator to avoid hand contact). It seems to have deep heating which helps a lot.
Back and Neck
- A TENS unit is a little machine with electrodes that buzz in different patterns. My doctor prescribed one for pain in my neck and back.
- I use Capzacin for pain in mostly knees, shoulders and even my neck. It seems to treat deep pain better than Icy Hot in my opinion. It has a sponge applicator to avoid contact with your hands.
Hips and Knees
- Heating pad
- When my knees hurt at night, and every movement is torture, Salonpas patches actually help. They are inexpensive, I can't believe they work as well as they do. (I have used them on my elbows and wrists as needed too.)
- I use Lidoderm patches on my knees often.
- My daughter likes a bag of frozen veggies on her knees when she hurts.
- For my knees I use a roll-on called Stop Pain, it's like a Ben Gay thing.
- I have some ice packs from Wal-Mart (about 9"x14") that I keep in the freezer. They have a velcro strap, and you can put them around a knee.
- MSM gel for me - I massage it into my knees, and soles of feet to help me sleep at night.
Feet and Ankles
- Hot wax bath - it helps to loosen the joints in the morning. You can get a paraffin spa on Amazon for $65. You can buy the wax on Amazon too.
- I use Zostrix on hands and feet. A cream you can buy at Walmart ($17) or on clearance at Vitamin World or GNC for $7. It has cayenne pepper in it. (Be careful not to get it near your eyes!)
- Compression socks
- Warm socks
- I have my husband roll my ankles and slowly bend them up and down.
- Epsom salt in a foot bath
- I wrap my feet in cold water soaked tea towels
- Going to my Podiatrist every 4 weeks has become a lifesaver to deal with the callous pain I have on the bottom of my feet and toes. The hard callouses have to be shaved. I soak my feet in warm water to soften the callous the night before I go to the doctor, and make sure they presoak the callous before the doctor comes in.
- Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme is wonderful for callouses and dry feet in general.
- I basically only wear SAS sandals and have to put a compression pad in them to take pressure off the callous.
- I wear diabetic socks every day.
- Good fitting boots or shoes help.
- At night I use a rub (Ben Gay or other) on the bottom of my feet.
- Foot massage roller usually prescribed for people with diabetes. Amazon sells different types, mine have pointy knobs - feels marvelous!
- Shoe inserts. Although I have narrow feet it's painful to wear my true shoe size. I've recently discovered buying men's tennis shoes and after wearing these with my insert, my feet are snug (not tight). I still have foot pain but nowhere near as severe as usual!
- Cannot sit in tub, but I use a small container to soak my feet while standing in the shower.
- Tiger balm patches on my feet and warm socks seems to help some.
- I use a corn bag - it's a material with corn (stuff you feed deer, it's washed and cleaned and dried). I put that in the microwave for 3 minutes with a cup of water, I use it for my hands, feet, and wherever I ache.
- Foot Spa. Bought it at Wal-Mart, use as warm of water as I can stand and allow the bubbles to sooth my feet.
- A nice hot bath with epsom salt in my whirlpool tub
- Heating pad. Heat patches. Heat rub.
- I have found that the more pain I'm in, sometimes stretching my muscles like if I was in yoga helps. It may hurt while I'm stretching but the next day the pain has reduced by 50%.
- I bought me an electric blanket - IT HAS HELPED. Bought a twin size at Wal-Mart for $30.
- Hot shower
- I have an electric (heated) mattress
- The electric mattress pad cover helps me. I have it on high about 1/2 hour before I go to bed. Then about 10 minutes before I climb in, I turn it down.
- Stay warm, keep out of drafts and blowing fans. Do not use repetitive movements.
- Clay microwaveable pads are great.
- I use VELLEX BLANKETS because they are specifically designed to be warm but lightweight. They don't put extra painful pressure/weight on my feet and toes, and thy don't weigh so much that they hurt my hands and wrists when I need to pull them up, or make the bed. You can get them at Amazon or JC Penney.
- Microwaveable rice packs
- Hot Tea
- I am a huge fan of icing EVERYTHING!
- I get in a hot tub of water and turn on the jets.
- We winter in Florida, I try to get to the pool, 86 degree water, each day.
- I have a waterbed, it's the only bed I can sleep on.
- I wear layers of clothes to keep me warmer.
- Light, non-weight-bearing exercise. I go to a warm water exercise class promoted by the Arthritis Foundation. We gently move every joint in our bodies. I found the class through our community center.
- Pineapple juice every day. Pineapple has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- For a short term fix you can soak a towel in extremely hot water then wrap it around the joint.
- A great chiropractor who will ultrasound joints as needed.
- Passive motion and ice baths
- Yoga class
- Sleep 8+ hours, keep weight and stress down
- Guided imagery
- I rest and relax that helps me a lot
- Raise your feet over your heart.
- Ginger root extract
- Nettle and mate tea for swelling
- I use the Pressure Point Massager balls. They are amazing at applying pressure but helping with the inflammation.
Gels and creams
- Voltaren gel
- DiabetAid Pain and Tingling Relief Lotion - even though it's for diabetics it works great for arthritis.
- Absorbine Veterinary Liniment Gel Topical Analgesic. You can find from an animal feed store or Amazon.
- Capzasin cream blocks nerve pain signals. Just don't rub it in your eyes!
- I've found some relief with a few essential oils: tumeric, ginger supplements, and mag phos (sublingual)
- Bio freeze! I love that stuff!
- Lioderm - it's a prescription patch that is lidocaine. You leave it on for 12 hours then off for 12 hours.
- Cherry extract capsules
- Pain Away from the chemists, it's only $12 a tub, comes in a spray as well.
- Magnesium Oil
- Arnica ointment
- Pure emu oil - from Amazon
- Diclofenec cream
- Aspercream Heat
- Zone cream - my doctor prescribed it.
- Ashwagandha and dashmularishta and rheuma-saj oil
- Essential oils, Deep Blue
- Fisiocrem Solugel - a wonderful cream that was recommended by my hand therapist, and it's effective on all my painful joints. The best thing is that it's totally natural (calendula, hypericum, arnica)
How about you? What are your tips for dealing with rheumatoid arthritis pain in specific parts of the body? Please share in the comments!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?