Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States and is generally highly prevalent in the west. Something that to us became really apparent when we published our recent post examining whether cannabis can help arthritis, which went on to be the most shared of any of our educational articles.
The internet is awash with advice about lifestyle changes and coping strategies for living with arthritis. But like any chronic illness, it’s really the people who live day in, day out with a condition who can really give the lowdown on how to survive and even thrive.
So here are our some of our favourite posts by those who really know: The Rheumatoid Arthritis Bloggers – we thank you for your inspiring and helpful content.
How to stay positive
“With a disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis, you can go from someone who runs 5km each day, has a full time job, raises children and keeps a house neat and tidy (well mostly) to someone who can’t take two steps without pain. Someone who can’t make a fist. Can’t hold on to a cup of coffee. Can’t hug someone without it hurting. It’s a shock, to say the least,” says Arthritic Chick in her article ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression’.
So the author has honed a ‘stay positive strategy’ for keeping the black dog of depression at bay. Making a habit of smiling, not isolating oneself, giving yourself credit and taking baby steps are just some of the suggestions she makes.
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2. Parenting without pain
Author Cheryl Crow combines her background as an occupational therapist, mother and RA sufferer to put together some excellent tips on the tricky task of getting kids dressed in her article ‘Parenting without pain: dressing and clothing life hacks.‘
Handy advice such as which types of fabrics to choose for infants’ clothing abound: “Tightness of fit: The looser the child’s clothing, the less force you need to apply to put it on, and thus the less strain on your joints.” Plus prevention strategies such as “using my soft neoprene splints as well as my custom thermoplastic hand/wrist splint has proven essential for protecting my thumbs and wrist from additional pain and strain.”
3. How to manage RA and your professional life
Many people continue with their professional career despite living with symptoms of RA such as fatigue and chronic pain. Lindsey Clouser is one such person and in her informative article ‘Living With Arthritis: 5 Ways to Manage Your Professional Life,’ she gives some incisive tips on how to navigate the working world when you have a RA diagnosis.
Honesty, both with yourself and your employer, is the key in situations such as job interviews and telling your boss when you’ve been diagnosed. “Be honest and tell them if you have any limitations or concerns. But don’t stop there. Tell them about all the preventative measures you to take avoid flare ups or interferences with your work. This can help quell their concerns,’ she says.
4. How Mindfulness can help with RA
Mindfulness, the practice of being in the present moment, is very much if you’ll excuse the pun, of the moment. Most people think it’s all about sitting in lotus position on a meditation cushion, which for obvious reasons would preclude most people with RA.
But in the great post ‘How to be Mindful’ by Leslie Vandever, she writes about why learning to be with whatever is, is fundamental to having a healthy relationship with a RA diagnosis.
“Mindfulness can’t cure RD. It can’t stop pain or even prevent it. What mindfulness can do is gently shift your focus away from your symptoms—your fatigue, that flu-ish feeling, your pain, and the anxiety they cause—and onto the simplicity of what you’re doing now, even if it’s just breathing in and out.”
5. Ten Tips on what to eat with RA
Most people once diagnosed with RA are advised to make some pretty serious dietary changes. Sometimes the advice can be conflicting, but in this article ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet – Ten easy Tips’ by the Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, she gives some easy to follow steps on what to include and exclude from your diet.
Ideas such as getting lab tests to see if there are any mineral deficiencies, keeping a food diary so as to notice if any particular foods cause flare ups, including foods rich in antioxidants like berries, broccoli, red grapes and garlic, and choosing healthy fats such as Omega 3, all number in her top 10.
She also links to her collection of health RA recipes in RA Kitchen Pages.
6. How juicing raw cannabis healed my RA
While our post ‘Can Cannabis Help Arthritis’ looks at the benefits of the cannabis plant after it has been heated up to make products such as cannabis oil, some people are turning to the plant in its raw form to find relief from the symptoms of RA.
Katie Marsh is one such person. “About a year ago I could barely move,” says Katie. “Doing everyday activities such as walking, dressing myself, and even using a toilet was extremely difficult and painful.”
After incorporating smoothies made with raw cannabis Katie says, “ I was able to eliminate all of my pharmaceuticals. Today, ten months later, I’m still pharmaceutical-free and almost in complete remission from RA. I drink cannabis juice smoothies daily and because the plant hasn’t been heated up or dried out, it does not get me high.”
Katie has also written a book called ‘Juicing Cannabis for Healing: How I Achieved Almost Complete Remission of Chronic Pain by Juicing Fresh, Raw Marijuana Leaf.’