A man walks away from a ball of frustration and crumpled papers.

The Irony in Managing RA

Sometimes, the suggestions for managing my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms feel ironic.

My joints are screaming in pain and I don’t want to move? Oh, exercise can definitely help that!

I’m past the point of fatigue and yet I can’t fall asleep to save my life? Of course, a regular sleep routine can help my body adjust to pain.

Feeling stressed? Oh, stress can increase RA symptoms, so definitely manage that stress ASAP!

What the actual, friends?

Lately, it seems to me like these circular thoughts go on and on and on.

Tips for RA management often feel ironic

Managing life with RA often feels like an ironic joke. And yet, it can often be the reality of living with this specific chronic illness.

Sometimes, I find myself feeling incredibly frustrated with these contradictions, with the fact that the recommendations for improvement seem to directly defy the symptoms that I’m struggling to manage in the first place.

When I get stuck in my own head about these things, I often feel like staying buried under the covers forever!

During my most recent appointment with my rheumatologist, I brought this up. I asked her if, from a provider's standpoint, she could see it too.

I could see her hesitate to respond, as she took a deep breath, and said, "Well, yes. But there’s science and logic behind the recommendations, even if they seem to go against 'common sense.'"

How to handle our frustrations

How do we juggle the competing feelings?

I'll be honest - I don't have a bulletproof plan to lay out before you. But, I do have several years of experience. And I thought that if I'd found things that helped me, maybe they'd feel helpful to you too.

  1. Do your own research. I like to understand the reasoning behind things - the mechanisms behind medications, and the logic behind recommendations provided from my doctors. This means I dedicate a decent amount of time to researching things before I implement them in my own life, but it enables me to feel both confident and comfortable moving ahead with different chronic illness management strategies.
  2. Deep breaths. Sometimes, the irony or frustration can feel overwhelming. When I have moments that amplify these feelings, it's critical for me to take several deep breaths and remember that I am the patient, that these symptoms are frustrating, and that however I proceed with managing them is ultimately my decision. I've found great bits of calm in using audio meditations during these moments - I personally recommend the Calm app!
  3. Ask questions! It's okay to feel skeptical of things that are recommended by your care team, other patients, or even the internet when it comes to managing your Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is well within your right (and usually encouraged!) to ask questions - on the what, they why, the how, and anything else that sparks your thoughts or helps you to make decisions and come to terms with any method of treatment or management being applied to your care plan.

If you can relate to these feelings, I'd love to hear what's helped you in managing your frustration and your RA!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

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

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.