Works for Me!

We asked our members to tell us what pain management techniques work for them. And we discovered a lot of great ideas:

I’ve found that taking pain meds on a schedule rather than just when I’m totally miserable helps a lot. It’s hard to get the pain back under control once it gets too severe. I also use moist heat (a slightly damp washcloth with my heating pad). I use a balance ball to do exercises that increase mobility without stressing my joints. I highly recommend it for range of motion, and combine it with breathing exercises it’s very relaxing. For driving (over 30 min or so) I have a power inverter and plug in my heating pad. All little things that add up to better control over my pretty severe RA.’
-Carol

I finally gave in and tried oxycontin, but am allergic to that and all NSAIDS. I was then put on Methodone and it was wonderful. I had no fuzzy brain side effects. I was living with a 10 plus on the pain scale, I also have degenerative disc disease and rupture discs so the methodone has at least let me live at a 5 level which I can tolerate. I still require a great deal of bed rest tho and when I feel good, once or twice a month I forget, overdo and end up paying a huge price. The RA is new to me so I still have to learn how to pace myself when I feel better. But the methodone has been a lifesaver. I couldn’t exist without it. The pain was just to sever for me. I also do relaxation exercises, water therapy and whirlpool baths.’ -Judy

‘I hope this isn’t old news for everyone, but for me it has literally been my salvation. I had been in constant agony for about five months and prepared disability papers to be filed with my employer. I simply couldn’t go on with my high-stress job as a newspaper reporter. Little sleep, jumping in and out of the car to go to interviews, etc., etc.

“Last week, my rheumatologist prescribed Bextra. That night and the next morning, all pain was gone and has continued to stay away (this is the following Thursday). I am a new woman! He also switched me from Prednisone to Medrol. Swelling has (almost) disappeared and last night we went razor clam digging on a very cold and windy beach for the first time in a long time.
I can only hope these effects last and there are no terrible side effects. For now, my disability plans are on hold.”
-Nancy in Chinook, Washington

‘Since I read that laughter produces endorphins in the brain, which are natural pain killers, I like to surround myselfwith friends that are upbeat and make me laugh a lot. When I’m laughing, I don’t seem to notice the pain. I, too, try to put the pain on the “back burner” of my mind and try to think about something else. It works for me”-Norma Jean

‘My RA was a sudden onset & I kept thinking it was going to go away as quick as it came. That was 5 years ago today. I neverwas one to take pain meds, I always suffered with headaches etc. but this pain was more than I could handle. I don’t think there was a joint in my body that didn’t hurt, even my jaws were affected. I stilll took minimal pain meds and one day I took them the way the dr ordered me to take them because I was so mentally exhausted and I was so tired of living in bed and I couldn’t believe the difference it made in everything, even my outlook on life again. So, for myself, I rely on my pain meds to live as normally as I can and staying out of bed as much as I can. Once the meds start working its nice to be able to hold a cup again and going to the bathroom unassisted. As a previous member mentioned, I take my pain meds on a schedule for them to work appropriately because if I don’t it takes me a few days for them to work right again. Also after taking them for awhile, I’ve adjusted to them in the way that I don’t sleep half the day away. Only about 30 min to an hour after I’ve taken them and sometimes not at all.’ -MarenaHave started drinking tart cherry juice….it really works for me and my husband’ -NAs forty two year old suffering from chronic gout, I have done the usual plethoria of common arthritic drugs such as Indocin and even in my desperation, some joint injections (ouch). BUT, in my own real world, I find that stress has a lot to do with flare ups and so I dictate how my day will go, warm baths with scented candles and some nice, soft, easy listening music make my day a lot less stressful. Sure I have my pain, but, its all mine, and that’s the mind set I start out with and everyone at work congratulates on my control. Something funny! I am also a high rise construction worker.’ -KennethI really watch what I eat. If I eat chicken, white potatoes, corn, or green peppers, too many days in a row, I have extreme pain. I know it is usually recommended to cut out beef, but my remedy for a very painful day is beef, eggs, rice, and onion. I make a concoction of all of these ingredients and I put the egg in raw. some would probably rather cook it because of salmonella possibilities. But this works great for me. Hubby also got me a paraffin bath and this works great on my stiff hands.’ -VeronicaI have had arthritis for most of my life, I am 23 and I was on triplicate narcotics ( loratabs, talwin, skelaxin etc. ) for 10 years. A year ago I found that doing yoga for 1-1/2 hrs. a day alleviates my pain totally in the summer, and about 90% in the winter. I’m not going to lie I still have days when I can’t get out of bed, but I am completely off of the drugs, and my pain days are much fewer now! I have not only gotten off of the meds, I have also lost 30lbs!’ -Tessa

Ultram as needed, sleep with Benedryl alternated with Ambien, and Tiger Balm rub(Wal-Mart)’ -MN

“My doctor and I are still trying to find what medication works best for me, but until we find it, I find that taking joy in things that have always made me happy seems to help a lot-playing more with my kids, having favorite foods around the house and a huge daily dose of B-52’s music seem to improve my mood!! I also only do what I can manage and try not to feel guilty. I can do about half a day of housework and then I’m done-my family is a bunch of slobs, so they’re pretty much okay with it. -hope you can all find happy things and just let the rest ride-works for me” -Julie

“My son suggested I go to bed with his Discman to keep my mind off the pain as I tried to sleep. And it works! I pop in a mellow rock CD, and shut my eyes and close out the world.” -Tina

“For my low back first I lie on an ice pack for 20 minutes and then I lie on a heating pad for 20 minutes. Another thing that makes me feel good is to lie on one of those massaging heat pad for half an hour. When the anxiety creeps in, taking a pain pill helps, but an hour long nap with my cat is best.” -Pat

“I agree with Lisa, I have lived seems like my whole life with RA and the pain, I don’t know how it would be without pain. When I first got RA my Father would always say:” Well, Judy I know it’s hard but you are just going to have to learn to live with”. Me with tears in my eyes and my body full of hot burning pain,what he said then would make me so mad. I didn’t think he understood, but really he did,he’s deceased now and fifteen years later what he said really did have a true meaning. When ever I get down in pain and want to just give up I still hear him say “you have to learn to live with it!!” I’ll pick up and go on with another day!” – Judy


“Hey Cathi, how about sharing that St.John’s Wort and Arnica ointment recipe with us.” -Dale

“I have upper and lower back pain ,really have pain all over, I would like to share with you what i use that really helps the back pain, I wear a long line support bra and a lumbar belt this supports the muscles in these areas . Hope this works as good for you as it does me.” -dmay

“I use ice on the outside and ice cream for the inside.” -Dale

“I’m taking Methoblastin and Salasapyrin they help alot. Also warm baths and showers. I also found taking control helps. So I cut down on my work hours first, finding that wasn’t enough, I found a less stressful job, and moved 5 minutes away from work. You wouldn’t believe how good it feels. I’m not as tired, and every bit helps. When I have a really bad day, I just let it happen. I stay in bed and spoil myself, instead of beating myself up not being able to do anything. My nephew comes to visit, and he knows that if I’m in bed its a cuddle day, and he sits watching movies with me. My theory is if we have to put up with the pain, lets benefit from it once in a while.” -Shelley

“My pain managment style is I just try to ignore it and go on about my business of living my life. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work so I take time just for me to relax and do some deep breathing exercises. I, also, get on the computer and play games to try and exercise my hands and get my mind off of the pain.” -Bumper

“Aside from medications, I find that warmth and warm/hot showers help me. The constant pain is sometimes tough, but I try to remember the old saying: “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet”…in other words, one must always remember that it could be worse! A sense of humor, too, always helps!!” -Karen


“Although it was although decision for me and my husband, I quit work and now stay home (I’m a “kept woman” not a housewife…lol). It is a financial strain, but I now have the energy and ability to keep up w/ my two young daughters. Having the satisfaction of being a real mom and wife helped alot. It was very depressing to have to dictate from the couch. I still have days that are painful, but watching my activites and using good body mechanics, keeps thing from getting too bad.” – Wendy

“I use an herbal ointment that I make myself from St.John’s Wort and Arnica. Being a medical professional, I, of course, was skeptical, but also willing to try almost anything and I have found that this usually helps in lessening the discomfort. AND, I don’t have to use as much vicodin.”-Cathi

I “save” myself for what is most important to me. Doctors tell me don’t do this, or do that — but giving up riding my horse is non-negotiable! I’ll quit bike riding to make them happy, but some things you simply can’t give up.”-Laurie

“I meditate – picture calming scene and do deep breathing exercises. Doesn’t remove the pain, but does help me handle the pain.”-Melanie

“I take a lot of whirlpool baths, helps to loosen up and feels great.”-Kelly

“Take pain meds at regular timed intervals, rather than taking them in response to pain. This also keeps lid on anxiety which otherwise only adds to the cycle. Have also had good results w/ultrasound and electro-stim but these were provided as part of physical therapy program. Have also used heat and ice effectively. Ice on warm joints more effective, while heat more effective on accompanying muscle spasms/pain. Also have used guided imagery w/fair results.”-Toni

“If I could not work and get my mind off myself and how I feel, I would not be functioning nearly as well as I am. That idea of thinking of something else works.”-Betty

“When my feet burn, I keep them iced with packs and also my elbows and hands. I don’t use heat at all. The pain usually is controlled by ice packs.”-Susan

“Relaxation exercises, being in a cool temperature in low light”-Belinda

“I have two fingers that have a throbbing pain, but wearing the copper magnetic rings totally eliminates the pain, however they still are rather stiff. I have tried it on my knees at night and think it helps.’-Linda

“I tend to use ice most of the time. I also have acupuncture which offers some relief.”- Patricia

“I seem to have a lot of pain at night and it prevents me from sleeping. I’ve found that if I lie real still and concentrate on my breathing, counting each breath, I forget about the pain and fall asleep much easier.”-Tina

“The most effective pain management tool I use is my mind. I have had this disease for most of my life, and wouldn’t even know how to act if I wasn’t in pain every day. Basically, I have the attitude that my pain is always going to be there… it is NOT going to go away tomorrow or the next day, so I put the pain in a special place in my mind and kind of ignore it, and go about my day doing the things I need to do. I didn’t plan it that way. It just happened naturally for me since I grew up with the constant pain. A sense of humor is a big help too. You have to laugh at yourself …or you will cry. And laughing is a lot more fun…:-)”-Lisa