Tolls Are Not Just for Drivers

I have always believed that pain is one of the biggest tolls we have to pay in our RA journeys.  Just as we may journey on toll roads to get where we are going, some requiring more tolls than others, so pain is the price we pay over and over.

Attention to rheumatoid arthritis pain symptoms

Pain can be a warning sign that we are about to enter a period of flaring and, as such, can be viewed as a message to address the oncoming flare and a price we need to pay.  I often have some early pain signals prior to a full-blown flare.  If I pay attention to them, I can then begin to consider how to respond, in advance. 

Starting my pre-flare plan

For instance, I may wake up with some hip pain for no apparent reason.  I did not do anything especially straining the day(s) before.  There is no obvious cause for the hip pain, thus pointing to a potential flare in the offing.  I then begin my pre-flare regimen.  I may take some mild medication to counter the pain.  I usually also slow down that day if I can.  I move more slowly and deliberately, avoiding any aggressive movements.  I try not to do anything that will strain any of my joints.  I will do some gentle movements like Tai Chi or swimming lightly, to keep all of my joints from tightening up.  I may apply some heat or take a warm bath or hot tub to keep blood flowing to those joints while alleviating the pain.

Reducing stress to help with pain

It is also beneficial to keep stress to a minimum when pain starts.  If I have learned one thing while managing RA, it is the fact that increased stress = increased pain for me.  Keeping my day calm and routine can be the perfect way to, if not prevent, then reduce the flare.

RA pain symptoms affects us differently

The pain of RA is unique to each of us, and so, how to respond to it is as well.  Some describe the pain as burning, others say piercing, aching, throbbing, etc.  I think most of us can relate to all those descriptions at one time or another.  The bottom line is: pain is part of this disease and knowing that fact allows us to move forward with managing it as best we can so that our lives are not completely dominated by the toll of pain.

The toll of RA pain symptoms

Pain can and does interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function and that is a heavy toll indeed.  There are times when each of us has to step away from what we do and just sink into the reality of handling pain.  I think that is fine and necessary. Ignoring RA pain is dangerous.  We all know that pain is a signal that joints are flaring, possibly being eroded or compromised if left untreated.  So, we need to “hear” the message of pain and what it means to us in that moment while not letting it take over our life.  Easier said than done, but worth the fight.

Despite the toll of pain, it does give us valuable information about the state of our RA which can be a price we pay that allows us to better manage the disease.


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