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Managing RA Pain

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.

Entire body

  • 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.
  • Prayer
  • 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
  • Biofreeze
  • 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! 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


    4 days ago

    Dealing with my RA Pain and How I deal with it. Feet, Fingers and Hands. I use Ben-gay, Soak My Feet’s & Hands in Hot Water with Espom Salt. Sometime I use A Heating Pad. When I go to sleep I have to pull my pillow down pass my shoulder. My left ankle stay sore so I use a pillow that a co-worker made for me so I put it between my two feet the pillow is the one that you put behind your head like a head rest I don’t know what what the name for that type of pillow but it is shape like a U and it goes around your neck.

  • ruby321
    4 weeks ago

    I have had RA for 63 years. I have found that rest is the best thing for RA. I mean even 10 hours of sleep daily. The best mattress you can find. I love my gel infused mattress I bought a while ago and yes I spent a lot for it. It has been the best thing I can suggest for restfull sleep. Drink only water! No soda, no sugary juices, no coffee, no anything but water, and lots of it a day. I don’t find any asprin or other products are even close to helping. I haven’t found any products other than aspercreme helps. This disease is slowly killing me, and I have fought a long time. Now I am finding brain fog is bothering me a lot. But I keep on working as a volunteer. Keeping your mind busy on something or someone else helps quite a bit. But sometimes you just have to take a personal day and do nothing, or do something therapeutic just for you. It’s a B____ to live with it. But we do the best we can.

  • rayrayinmn
    3 months ago

    Hi there! I just want to share with everyone here a product i found very useful for pain… I don’t sell it I’m not trying to endorse it but, seriously it’s all natural with essential oils that naturally warm and cools the area you apply it to. It’s called Spicy Ice sore muscle rub. It’s from a small Wisconsin company that makes all their products. Web site is Bonus is it smells amazing! Not like old icy hot etc. It’s $15.00 and lasts a long time.
    I hope this helps someone here 🙂

  • sandy65
    4 months ago

    Be careful if using absorbine it can burn the skin if rubbed in like Ben gay or if covered with a dressing dont get near eyes

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    4 months ago

    Thanks for the note, @sandy65!

    As it is, I am very sensitive to these kind of creams and I get weird flu reactions!

    Best, Monica

  • rayrayinmn
    3 months ago

    I just posted about an all natural product that may help?!

  • stormlight
    11 months ago

    This might sound slightly crazy but…..


    I know there’s no scientific proof this works, but even my rheumatologist and my clinical pharmacist are interested. I’ve been doing this kind of thing since I was 10 years old (I’m now 41). I don’t have time right now to go into serious detail – and I’ve no idea whether anyone even wants to hear it anyway – but for now, suffice it to say, crystal therapy is the only alternative medicine with absolutely no risk of side effects; plus, it can deal simultaneously with the physiological and psychological aspects of RA/RD.

    If, perchance, anyone wants to know more, please reply.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    4 months ago

    Hey @stormlight!

    Thanks for commenting! I think a lot of people would be interested in your thoughts on crystal therapy.

    If you would like to share – the forum on natural remedies would be a great place to start a thread. Just scroll all the way down to add a topic.

    All the best, Monica

  • epurushotham
    7 months ago

    Yes I’d like to know abt crystal therapy. The suggestions by this net work r greatly appreciated. I’ve used voltaren gel, n bio freeze. They are great!!! But I don’t know what to do abt the acute pain in my ankles Nd feet. I do use warm socks n comfortable diabetic shoes

  • DebbieH
    1 year ago

    Ice packs are my best friends along with Hemp creme or Emu blue creme.

  • jgeorge
    1 year ago

    For RA pain the only relief is taking medical marijuana. I’m reluctant to take any prescription medications because of possible side effects.
    Also Topricin cream seems to help.
    What do others do for the swelling of joints?

  • DebbieH
    1 year ago

    Turmeric capsules has helped me and make sure to take only 500 mg a day as per my Rheumatologist and give it at least 30 to 60 days to start feeling the difference.

  • Dana Williams
    1 year ago

    I have been disappointed with since I joined because there are never any posts or comments or survey results that speak to the use of medical marijuana. I cannot believe that no one is using or has tried it.

  • Alesandra Bevilacqua moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Dana Williams! We appreciate your comment. If you follow this link, you’ll see that we do have articles and posts available on the site on the topic of medical marijuana: We also have a forum topic on it as well, if you’d like to join the discussion: I hope this helps! – Alesandra ( Team)

  • junieoonie
    2 years ago

    I’m new to this RA nightmare. Diagnosed 4 mos ago. Thought I had Lyme. Just started sulfasalizine 2 weeks ago. No side effects so far. Still on prednisone but weaning. Having severe hip and shoulder pain about 2-3 days per week. I am learning that laying around makes me worse. If I stretch in a hot shower and push through the pain, I can get in front of it. I’m never pain free but as a nurse I will embrace this diagnosis considering other diseases some people are handed. Trying to keep a healthy attitude is paramount. I try to not have any pity parties and just keep moving. Motion is lotion. When will the meds start working? I guess there is no guarantee it will. Would love some positive feedback.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for writing junieoonie. Sorry to hear about the diagnosis, but so glad to see the positive attitude. You are so right about the need to keep moving. Thought you might appreciate this article from one of our contributors on the importance of moving your body everyday: Wishing you the best. Richard ( Team)

  • DiamondLadi
    2 years ago

    My RA flares can at times get so painfully severe that I feel like grinding my teeth & screaming to the top of my lungs! I’ll use Ace Bandages to wrap extremely tight around my feet, legs, knees, arms & hands for about 3 – 5 minutes. The area will start to turn bluish-purple, but for me it helps so much.

  • OzBinky
    3 years ago

    When my hands or feet have bad flare ups I soak bandages in water then put them in the freezer for a while. Once there cold enough, or slightly frozen, I wrap my hands or feet with them. It helps soothe the swelling and hot spots.

  • dayslikethese
    3 years ago

    Pain relief: Motrin, valerian root, compression, Vicks, d3 supplement, potassium to relieve swelling and vitamin c for elasticity. Stretching, changing positions, crocs, thick socks, wrapping hands and arms and ankles with elastic bandages. Drinking tea–swelling reduction. Massaging joints. Using a walker to relieve pressure on knees and back. A hot or cold towel with table salt–wrap and rub affected joints.Relaxing music and yoga breathing.

  • Lindsay
    5 years ago

    Yoga is my number one pain reliever. I do vinyasa yoga for the most part, so the body warms up and can stretch deeper than some of the more gentle forms. My favorites are downward dog for my shoulders and heels; cresting the wave for the whole body; cobbler, pigeon, and goddess for the hips; forward folds for the back, neck and knees; legs up the wall and plow for the back; and kundalini breathing exercises for general tension relief. Meditation and exercise in general are the most effective for me.

  • judy york
    5 years ago

    For me, I chose a all natural supplement program. I was on prescription medications, prescribed by my Rheumatologist, for three months, and these drugs reduced me to a couch potato, with no quality of life. I chose Plexus Worldwide products. When I took these products to my Rheumatologist and told him, I wanted to try this method. He told me that supplements were just vitamins and they would not work, I would be wasting my time! These products come with a 60 day money back guarantee, so what did I have to lose? I saw positive results happening in the first 9 days, and I have never looked back. I am 20 months down the road now, and I am so grateful to be off all pharmaceutical drugs, and dealing with no side effects. I started kayaking in my 9th month, and I have kayaked every week, since I started! My pain is gone, and my inflammation is totally under control. The all natural ingredient that has been responsible for this improvement is called ETArol. I also take Moducare, a auto immune booster, to help keep my own auto immune system working at it’s best, to combat my RA. I will never give up my Plexus products for anything!

  • Rose de Kook
    5 years ago

    Must watch what you rub in as I was told NOT to use voltaren as its like double dosing. Celebrex methotextrate predisnolone & pain meds Sometimes we just want the pain to go. I’ve tried meditation, tapping, & sometimes it’s better to take something to sleep it off. Hard to stay positive when this happens. Just remember to enjoy yourself when you can!!

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