To Limp or Not to Limp?

To Limp or Not to Limp?

The title of this article may strike some people as strange. After all, there really shouldn’t be much decision-making involved in limping, right? If it’s too excruciating to walk with full weight on both feet, then limp, and if not, then walk with a normal gait. Simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, living with rheumatoid arthritis is never simple. It’s a complicated disease that causes all sorts of complications in one’s life. It can impact the type of work one does or whether someone is able to work it all; it can have ramifications on family life or on a person’s decision to have children; it can influence how much time one is able to spend with friends and at social outings; and it can certainly impact the way a person moves.

For the past couple of weeks, my right hip and sacroiliac joint have been very painful. My hips are frequent offenders when it comes to joint pain, but typically it is intermittent, flaring up for a couple of days and then decreasing. This time, the pain has been relentless, varying only in intensity but never becoming mild enough that I’m not aware of every movement. There’s no position that is comfortable; sitting, lying, standing, and walking all hurt. While I do think about the implications of each activity (trying not to sit for too long, pondering whether it’s best to sleep on my back or on my side, searching for something to lean against while standing), it’s walking that has me second-guessing my natural inclinations the most.

My hip is begging me to limp. Each step sends a jolt of searing pain through me. When this recent bout of hip pain started, I didn’t want to give into the temptation to limp because I’ve recently begun a new job. Many people are still not familiar with my work and what I am capable of, and unfortunately, physical ailments continue to carry a stigma in our society. I worry that people may have preconceived notions of what a person with a disease can accomplish. Therefore, at my new job I don’t lie about having RA, but I don’t advertise it either. Ideally, I prefer for people to get to know me before sharing that I have a chronic illness, as I worry that I may be viewed as a liability rather than an asset. There are positive and negative aspects of rheumatoid arthritis being an invisible disability, and I’m often glad that I have the option of whether or not other people know that I have a disease. Therefore, thoughts of whether or not I want people at my new job asking me what’s wrong went through my mind when deciding whether to give into the temptation to limp.

For the first couple of days, I tried not to limp at my job. However, the intensity of the pain overpowered my self-consciousness, and I gave my hip the assistance it was asking for by not putting all my weight on it. While this did make each step less painful on my hip, it began taking a toll on the rest of my body. I began having pain in my right knee, my lower back, and my left sacroiliac joint. While limping was taking some of the strain off my right hip, it was increasing the demand on surrounding muscles and joints, and I was feeling pain through a larger percentage of my body.

I ended up going to the chiropractor, who was quickly able to assess that I was significantly out of alignment. After the adjustment, the pain in my lower back and right knee decreased rapidly. While the chiropractic treatment did not eliminate my hip pain, the next day the rest of my body was back to normal.

Since then, I’ve been trying not to limp in spite of the protestations from my hip. Unlike an injury, which may heal more quickly if allowed to rest, the source of my pain is stemming from my own body’s immune system. Therefore, resting the joint is not necessarily going to end the flare, and the rest of the joints and muscles in my body can become painful from the extra demand that limping places on them. Nothing’s ever easy with RA, including how best to nurture our bodies when in a flare.

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.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • suann
    2 years ago

    I can so relate to this. The worst pain I have dealt with was in my hip, oh my, how painful, I couldnt walk, I called the EMS to take me to the hospital, I knew from a young child I suffered from ra but no one ever told me some day I wouldnt be able to walk because of it.. Once I was up on my feet I vowed never to let it happen again, although I cant stop the ra I can feel the least bit of pain then Im on it.. Up the predisone please.. I do limp, if I can ease some of the daily pain then yes im going too..

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing! Prednisone can feel like a lifesaver. Here’s an article I wrote about the many feelings I have about prednisone, in case you find you can also relate to this: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/the-predni-zone/. I hope you are able to have a good Thanksgiving (if you live in the US) in spite of your hip and RA. I am thankful for this community and thank you for being a part of it!

  • Eva McCue Wilson
    2 years ago

    I also have the same problem with pain in my knees and pain in my lower back and spine. I have a cane with 4 rubber feet on it and I cannot walk with it it does not help me at all the only thing that helps me is my 4 wheel Walker with the seat on it and it is rather embarrassing to me to use it but it does help me and I have to put aside my ego and use my Walker it’s the only thing that helps and if I get tired I can sit down on it I can put my purse in it and it is my personal assistant

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Eva! It is true that RA often poses dilemmas between catering to our bodies and catering to our egos. It’s hard to win. I’m glad that you are using the tools that allow you to be as mobile as possible. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your strategies, and for being part of our online community.

  • Eva McCue Wilson
    2 years ago

    I have a four-wheel Walker in the back of my car and I also have one in the house sometimes it’s very painful for me to get up off the chair and walk around the house so I have my Walker it handy for me to grab onto so I can walk around my house and do some of my chores also when I’m cooking so I have to sit down at times and I use my Walker

  • Cassandra Bird
    2 years ago

    Using my walking sticks makes me hurt so bad. I’m mostly housebound though so and tend to hold onto everything round the house rather than use my sticks. Even the ergo handled ones are too painful to bear x

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, Cassandra. I’m so sorry that you are experiencing such high levels of pain and are not able to be very mobile. I’m sure you’ve tried everything under the sun, but just in case there might be something of help or interest, I’m including an article with ideas from the community about managing pain: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/community-ideas-managing-pain/. You probably have some suggestions for us on this matter! Thank you for being part of our community and please continue to share any time you have a question, concern, or experience to contribute. I’m thinking of you!

  • MsKGMC
    2 years ago

    Limping is definitely not a good idea, as you experienced. The best solution is to use a cane so that you’re taking weight off of the afflicted hip without using the other joints & muscles to compensate. The predicament with using a cane is that your new coworkers and boss may see you as a liability. It’s really hard to catch a break with this disease.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for your comment and suggestion. Your analysis certainly hits the mark, and it is indeed hard to catch a break. Thank you for being part of our community!

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