Dealing with pain

As much better as I feel after having changed my diet and started taking anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric and magnesium, I still have some bad days. Today is one of those. I got up feeling great this morning. Went through the house to take the dogs out for a walk. I bent down to fasten a leash onto Oskar's collar and couldn't straighten up. I threw my back out!

Well, not really. There usually isn't anything out of place when a back injury occurs. Generally, it's just a strained or pulled muscle. Then swelling occurs around the injury and that presses on the clusters of nerves that run toward the legs; it can cause pain in the hips and numbness or tingling in the feet. Minor back injuries occur for the stupidest of reasons - a sneeze, lifting something as light as a coffee pot, or just bending over to fasten a leash. You don't have to have RA to experience a back injury. I've injured my back several times in this manner - usually after having over-used those muscles or having pushed too hard. I can't recall having overused my back recently, but when you have RA, any use can seem like overuse.

You'd think that with the amount of NSAIDs I take I wouldn't really need to worry about this kind of injury. And you'd think that 1000 mg of Relafen would offer some relief. You'd be wrong. I will try to go to see a chiropractor tomorrow, if I am able to get out. Today I am walking on two canes - well, maybe walking is too strong a word. It's more of a bent-kneed shuffle with lots of gasping, groaning, and cursing. Even a trip to the refrigerator for a drink is a trial. I've taken Tylenol and Flexeril and have experienced only a mild dulling of the pain. Sitting hurts. Lying down hurts. Standing up hurts. EVERYTHING hurts.

I have used ice to reduce the swelling. By tomorrow, I will be able to use heat to help relieve pain. Until then, I'll just have to deal with it. But what does it look like to deal with overwhelming pain? If there is no medication available and no way to sit, stand, or lie that helps, what techniques work? Fortunately - or unfortunately - I have a lot of experience in this kind of thing. Here's what I do, with varying degrees of success.

Distraction. This can come in many different forms, including watching TV or a movie, reading a really good book, working a challenging crossword puzzle, having a deep conversation with a friend, meditating, or drawing.

Massage. You need a partner for this, and I currently don't have one. But it does feel very good to have a pair of warm hands working over sore muscles. I could go to a massage therapist, but I think it would hurt so much to get there that the massage itself wouldn't do much good.

A hot shower. That isn't going to work right now. I can barely get to the bathroom and I know there's no way I could lift my right leg high enough to get in the tub.

So for now, it's distraction I'm relying on. Writing. Watching reruns of Deep Space Nine. Reading 1408 by Stephen King or An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. Occasionally checking Facebook to see what my friends are up to. It isn't working very well, but it's what I have. Maybe later I will get in that hot shower - who knows?


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