How to Deal with Osteoarthritis Pain – Some Helpful Tips

I’m in my fourth month since I found out that the unexplainable aches and pains throughout my body are partly due to osteoarthritis. The grieving process kicked in as soon as I heard the news. I have been through all five steps, and most of them more than once: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial dominated my thinking for three years before I finally went to the doctor. Depression and anger stepped in immediately upon diagnosis and bargaining lingers somewhere in the background. Right at this moment, I am experiencing a moderate level of acceptance.

 

Grieving_osteoarthritisPhysical Pain

Pain management has been my focus for the most part. During the day, I have been functioning fairly well but at night the pain was keeping me awake for hours. As soon as I became settled in my bed at night, the aching would start, mostly throbbing or shooting pain in my legs.

Carrying heavy objects, walking uphill, or walking up stairs causes pain in my lower back, right hip, and leg so I am learning not to do those things. Using stairs is an inescapable reality in my current lifestyle but if I lead with my left leg and follow with my right, one step at a time, I can do it without too much regret later. It feels silly and I hate it that people can hear the odd clunking rhythm from a distance but hey, it works.

I avoided Tylenol for the first couple of months because drugs of any kind scare me. Eventually, I allowed myself to take one at bedtime and it took the edge off enough to allow for a fitful night’s sleep. After about ten days of Tylenol, I decided that it was too scary and I turned my focus toward avoiding any sort of activity that might cause pain later. That helped somewhat.

Diminishing Mental Anguish

I miss walking more than anything. Spending time in nature and staying physically active was my source of peace and joy for Osteoarthritis_anxiety_reliefmany years and had many health benefits as well. That is until it didn’t.

Living in the country, surrounded by farms and orchards, and driving through the countryside on the way to work or even the grocery store is soothing. My heart dances when I look over the pastures of cows, puddle-turned-pond that beckons ducks, and orchards with perfectly lined trees to see the sun rising on yet another new day.

The giant smudgy, old and damaged windows at the front of my house flood my workspace with light and a view of swaying trees that fill my soul with gladness. A tiny opening in the nearby door allows the sound of the wind and scent of fresh air flow through and mimic the joy of sitting in the woods after a long hike.

Even the scent of chocolate wafting from the kitchen perks me as my son works on his latest creation: chocolate truffles for his sister who will take him out for a few hours today.

A New Perspective

Feeling sorry for myself led me to join several online support groups where I found out that I am not alone in my suffering. In fact, my challenges are nothing in light of what others are going through. The anger at this crippling disease appearing when I was only in my fifties and just starting to live dissipated when I realized that some face the same challenges in their twenties or younger. Aches and pains that haunt me in the night seem insignificant when others take heavy drugs, shots, and surgeries and can’t find relief even during the day.

The Good Things

Most of the time when something unfortunate happens, it leads to good things that probably never would have happened if the bad thing hadn’t happened first. In only four months, I have experienced so many of these good things.

First of all, in pursuit of a new line of work and source of income, I found Wealthy Affiliate University where I am learning how to create websites that will eventually be profitable. Perhaps if I were a little more diligent in creating content, I would be seeing an income by now but I am having a little too much fun in the community. There are thousands of people in there from all over the world and at different stages of growth but we all have one thing in common: we want the freedom and income to live life on our own terms.

Watching a young man in his twenties celebrate as one of his projects exploded overnight from the well-formed plan into an income exceeding $100,000 makes me happy enough to keep plugging along whether I make any money or not. Another newbie like me was recently “discovered” by an outside organization and asked to recreate a website for them similar to what she has done for herself. Others have been surprised to be called upon to give speeches or teach classes and share what they have learned.

These things are fun to watch but sometimes I spend more time celebrating other’s successes than I do pursuing my own. After all, I have created a comfortable retreat for myself at home and the lure of mountainous resorts is shrinking and the desperate need for more money along with it. Sipping home-brewed, freshly ground, gourmet coffee with the scent of chocolaty goodness in the air and the sound of the wind in the trees as fresh air tickles my skin makes for a rather cushy life, after all.

New Ways of CopingOsteoarthritis_comfort

Pillows have become my new best friend. Constantly adjusting them under various body parts, behind my back, and even on top of me has gifted me with a new level of comfort. Twenty minutes was my time limit on just about anything but I find now that I can sit for hours when I use pillows to change the pressure on any given area.

Pillows are very handy for sleeping, too, as my friend Jerimy discusses in this article about sleeping positions. My bed has become a land of pillowy softness and I wonder how I ever managed to sleep in the past. Correction: I wonder how I ever managed to get through life without sleep in the past. Sleeping has never been one of my strengths.

When I am not all cozied-up with pillows, I find it helpful to stand while I work. That, too, used to have a twenty-minute time limit until I found this cool gadget through another blogging friend. This adjustable laptop stand enables me to adjust the angles of my laptop in seemingly infinite ways so that no one part of my body experiences undo stress. Not only is it helpful for standing but I can be flat on my back if I need to, which used to be the only position that offered me freedom from pain even though it was uncomfortable and boring.

(Click on the picture for more information at Amazon.)

Finally, one more recent change seems to be making a difference. As soon as I announced on Facebook that I have osteoarthritis, I was flooded by this advice: “Try CBD oil. It fixes everything. CBD oil will help you sleep. It will relieve your pain. Besides, it’s legal.” Sources of the “drug” were popping up everywhere and honestly it was just too much information and not enough “inside dope”. Then I connected with Effie, another Wealthy Affiliate blogger who writes about CBD oils.

Effie has become my personal CBD coach and after months of patiently answering my endless questions, often with a brand new blog post, I have finally begun experimenting with CBD. Wow, and I thought pillows were good. They are but pillows and CBD combined are heavenly bliss. Sleep is good! In the fifty-plus years of my life, I have never slept this soundly for more than two consecutive nights.

Sound, deep sleep is an amazing experience but waking up pain-free is a perk I didn’t expect, especially on the morning after being reallyOsteoarthritis_sleep_CBD stupid and carrying a heavy box down a flight of stairs and having to use a commercial string mop at one of my cleaning sites.

I’m still on my first bottle of CBD tincture and in my first week of experimentation but I really hope this is my new normal.

This blog post has gotten long enough and I don’t want to bore my readers to the point that they never come back.

I hope that someone out there who suffers from chronic pain, the desire for a new career or curiosity about the benefits of CBD oil will find something in this article that will help them in some way.

Perhaps this article will help or encourage someone you know. If so, please share it. Also, if you relate to anything I have shared about my journey or have something to add, please use the comment space below. You can also follow me here: Theresa Horn on Facebook.

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  1. Dear Theresa, I enjoyed your muses so much as they express everything I’ve been experiencing over the past several years and in actuality my entire life! I remember crying with unexplained pain in my legs at age 5. At age 11 I was hospitalized with “juvenile arthritis” and rheumatic fever. The treatment the Dr. recommended was complete bedrest for 6 weeks. Well, as you can imagine, I couldn’t even walk when I was released to go home! The hospital food was so bad I broke the rules and snuck out of bed to flush it down the toilet when no one was looking! As you can guess I lost 20 lbs and weighed about 60lbs when I got home. The treatment consisted of aspirin every 4 hrs and penicillin (the wonder drug of the 60’s). Well, I couldn’t swallow the adoring so I chewed it up and swallowed it! Bitter!! You can imagine what all this salicylic acid did to my gut!! Henceforth numerous gut issues. As for the penicillin, I hated the way it tasted when I chewed it up due to my inability to swallow, so I spit it into the house plants of which mom kept several around. They flourished!! I did NOT!! From early on then my health has been a constant struggle of pain and digestive problems. Nevertheless, I managed to graduate from high school with honors, graduated after five years of college with a degree in art and dental hygiene hygiene., I also can brag about raising three wonderful children whom all have college degrees, great families and have given me five adorable grandchildren. The down side is I can’t hold them, barely can hug them due to the pain . I too now have osteoarthritis along with fibromyalgia. Sleep is the biggest challenge. Like you, until CBD oil and low dose naltrexone I was awake most of the night. The bed has so many pillows my husband can barely find me! The padding had me about 4?inches higher than him as well! I usually get up and rock in my glider rocker. The gentle motion helps. I light candles and meditate. I count my many blessings and pray. I also dream of when I can exchange this painful lump of flesh and bone for my heavenly body in my heavenly home. Pain free at last!! I’m going to run all over Paradise playing with my grandchildren !! I don’t know how to stop rambling on because at almost 70 years I have TOO many stories to tell. So, goodbye for now and keep writing. I love it!! And I love you my dear sister♥️.

    1. Hi Sherry!

      You are a true warrior indeed! The odds were against you from the beginning. I am in awe of how one human can overcome so many obstacles and continue to brighten the lives of others. I wish I could sit in a glider rocker beside your glider rocker and listen to your nearly 70 years of stories! Thanks for popping in. I love you back!

      Theresa

  2. Oh Theresa, I can feel your pain. I understand the night pain personally. It’s terrible.

    I’m glad to hear that you found that you’re not alone. I was glad to find out for myself that I wasn’t alone. Although, the isolation sure feels lonely at times.

    I’m a Veteran, and I certainly can’t find the gonads to feel sorry for myself when I visit the local VA. Like you, I quickly realize that there are others that are worse off.

    YES to Wealthy Affiliate!! Probably the best thing to happen out of my ‘retirement’ (I don’t use the ‘d’ word).

    I had to laugh about the pillows, because if you could see me now…hahaha!! I have more pillows around than my friends and partner can understand. They think that I have an obsession with pillows. If only they understood our curse (and blessing).

    Thanks for the shoutout, by the way, I really appreciate it! 🙂

    I’m stoked to hear that you found CBD helpful. I’m still on the fence about it, but I don’t take it every day (it’s too expensive).

    I also like the laptop stand idea, as I am often flat on my back in bed too. I was for several hours today even.

    This is a great post, Theresa. I’m going to share this to hopefully inspire others.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jerimy, and thanks for sharing my post. I have found your website very helpful and I hope that by sharing it on my site, others will find it and be helped as well. Effie’s website includes links to Joy Organics and Elixinol, two CBD sources that offer free shipping. That saved me $8 per order compared to another company I looked at. I am finding it very helpful, though, and I may have to shake up my budget and replace chocolate with CBD!

    2. Jerimy, sorry for the intrusion. I read your comment and I couldn’t help it! I have to give you this information: I don’t know which CBD oil brand is your favorite but I would like to let you know that Joy Organics, an organic zero THC, CBD oil brand holds a special veteran discount. If the cost is holding you back take a look at this opportunity to get high-quality CBD paying less! Take care !

  3. While it’s so hard to read about the pain and issues you’re enduring (because I so wish you weren’t), it’s so encouraging to read about the solutions you’re discovering. I am finding lately that my neck and lower back are giving me pain most days, and I’ve been increasingly curious about CBD oil. Jon also has a good point and, with my background in nutrition and personal experimentation with diet, I know small changes can lead to tremendous improvements in quality of life (unfortunately I enjoy eating too many things that aren’t in my best interest…a constant struggle for me). I appreciate you sharing your struggles with us so we can learn along with you and rejoice in the progress you make towards reducing your pain and regaining your life.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. I wish you well in your endeavor to find solutions to your pain. It’s definitely a journey of discovery to find what works for us as individuals. I appreciate your words of encouragement.

  4. I’m really glad to hear you are finding ways around and through your pain. Pain is bad enough, but chronic pain is miserable and can really torpedo your quality of life.

    One additional thing you might want to look into is attending to gut health. I know it sounds a little far fetched that there would be a connection between the health of your gut and osteoarthritis, but the relationship between the microorganisms that reside in your gut (your microbiota) and your immune system, and the resulting effect that can have on systemic inflammation, is a fascinating if circuitous entanglement that nonetheless researchers are finding to be a very real one.

    Best of luck, I look forward to your further success in both health, and profession!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. There may be something to that theory of gut health affecting other areas of our bodies. I am doing some research on that now. It’s interesting how much our body’s functions are interconnected.

  5. First, CBD is becoming King and for good reason; I’ve been reading up on it myself and the fact it has become a relief to many forms of chronic illnesses, both physical and mental, shows us the potential it has.

    Second, I’ve read more than a few of Effie’s posts, and her content is through the roof amazing. I can definitely see why you read her blog; it’s great and I look forward to reading her stuff as well.

    I’m only 27, but I have my own fair share of chronic pain, especially throughout my upper left arm, both knees, and at times, my right elbow. For someone who wishes to uphold his body for the long haul, especially given the fact I’m a workout addict and overdoing it in the gym is likely a contributor here, I want something natural to use and CBD will be my product of choice as well….it beats anything the big pharma industry offers, that’s for sure.

    1. Hi, Todd. CBD might be just the thing for your chronic pain and might also calm that part of you that’s driven to work out a little more than you should. It’s definitely worth a try and has certainly helped a lot of people. Check out Effie’s product reviews before you order anything and make sure that you read her article about CBD brands to avoid. There’s great information there for people new to CBD products.

  6. Hey Theresa!

    Thanks for the link to my blog. 🙂

    I’ve known some people with osteoarthritis and how painful it can be. I used to have a lot of fibromyalgia, but when I had to give up dairy and mostly eat plant-based for my digestive condition, a lot of it went away.

    I see you’ve purchased the portable laptop table. That’s awesome and it should be very helpful with finding a comfortable standing position. I use mine because I have osteoporosis, the more silent bone condition.

    Working on websites and blogs can require far too much sitting. It’s not healthy, but the adjustable laptop desk is a great way to stand for longer periods of time. I even do knee bends and shift my weight from foot to foot.

    But, like you, I would never give up my online business and the wonderful community at Wealthy Affiliate. I organize my days around these activities.

    Thanks again for the link and all the best with your journey,
    Stella 🙂

  7. No, it wasn’t boring, Theresa. It made me feel your pain and suffering from the very beginning. I’m glad there was catharsis at the end of the article! My mother suffers from a kind of arthritis but her biggest problem is her stubbornness, she prefers prescription meds to alternative solutions. I’ve tried to change her mind with no result. Please, give me your advice: what can I do to persuade her to try something more natural instead of opioids?

    1. Hi, Effie. I’m not sure that it’s possible to change another’s mind. Some of us are more trusting toward natural remedies and others toward prescription meds. The more exposure she has to positive outcomes of the alternative method, the better. She may be more open to hearing from someone outside the family but I don’t know how to make that happen without intentional manipulation.

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