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Something I Didn't Know My RA Needed Until...

I've lived with joint pain for most of my life and have officially carried the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis for nearly 7 years now. I've explored a lot of different things during my lifetime to manage, survive, and even at times thrive despite the pain — medications, injections, physical therapy, topical creams, braces, infusions, a TENS unit, chiropractic care, targeted ultrasound treatment, and isolated hot and cold therapy.

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Some of these things have made small, temporary differences (especially beneficial during flare-ups or specific injuries or joint pain exacerbations), and others have been unhelpful at best.

Joint pain and stiffness in the morning

Two years ago, we moved into a new house, and our bedroom has very high ceilings along with large windows on 3 of the 4 walls. During our early days in the house, it was February in the Midwest, and the temperatures never rose above freezing. Our house was generally warm, but upon waking up in the mornings, I was finding a new, unpleasant increase in joint pain and stiffness.

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One night, somewhere around 3 AM when I was trying to get comfortable and prop my knees up in a way that offered any relief to their throbbing, I found myself on Amazon looking at reviews of heated blankets. I found some relief at times from a heating pad, so I thought that it might be worth a try to have this larger, more dispersed heat option.

A heated blanket changed my life

Friends.

I'm telling you, sleeping with a heated blanket has changed my life. The rheumatoid arthritis part of my life, that is.

This adaptation has changed so much for me — and I had no idea that I even needed it.

To be honest, I've always run warm, and in fact, most of the past years of my life were slept with ceiling fans or tower fans running all night, every night in every season... BUT, having a heated blanket has done something important for my joints that I've come to understand over time.

Gentle heat helps me relax and release tension and stiffness

My blanket has several heat settings (1-10, to be specific), and I tend to fall somewhere towards the middle, usually sleeping with it on somewhere between 3 and 6. This gentle, low/medium-grade heat is dispersed over my whole body, from neck to toes, and there's something about it (along with the fact that the blanket I have is incredibly soft and very snuggle-able) that allows me to sink into my body. It allows my body to relax in a way that releases some of the tension and the pain held all day and generally accumulated overnight.

As a Type A, Enneagram 2 who struggles with massive anxiety, my body has been in some sort of tense, hypervigilant state most of my life, which gives way to my joints locking, my pain and swelling and stiffness increasing, and my overall discomfort skyrocketing.

By being able to release much of that inadvertently by resting under this gentle heat, I have found that I wake up experiencing much less initial daily pain and stiffness, 2 things that were previously huge limitations for my days.

Have you tried a heated blanket for stiff joints?

This blanket has been such a revelation that I never leave home without it, even when I travel. The consequences of sleeping without it are too high, and it's just not worth the actual physical pain to me. I'd rather bring a bigger suitcase or send something ahead of time for a long trip than be without my beloved heated blanket.

Have you tried a heated blanket before? Has it changed your sleep, or your joints, or how you feel about life? :)

Share in the comments section below!

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