Another set back, now my feet hurt!
You know how it is… you’re feeling good, you’re just getting into a rhythm when wham… RA throws you flat on your back!
Don’t deceive yourself! It’s killer hard and really depressing when reality comes rushing back! You were managing to be active, out walking regularly with friends and doing all the things you know you should do. Then someone yanks the rug out from under you!
I get it! I couldn’t even stand up on my own two feet last month.
Honestly, I crumbled… from my fetal position on the ground “No way, uh uh, this suck’s, I am not doing this!”
I wallowed, I got depressed and probably a lot more than “just a little catastrophic”. I seriously felt like this was the end of the road, my feet are what allow me to put one foot in front of the other.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not an isolated disease of the bones and joints. It affects tissues throughout the body, causing damage to the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons.
So while I rested and backed off my activity I was a bit worried about my mental state and the lack of physical distraction. Without the distraction I know my pain is all I can think about.
Historically I have psyched myself up looking at instagram pics and quotes on resiliency and positivity.
This time, I’m wasn’t exactly feeling it 😦
When you’re ready and you get to the point that you don’t feel like life is about to end, try and take control; whatever control you can!
Read I usually come up with as many things to fix my issue/feet as I can, working to identify what is going on… Plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, ligament issues, which joints, Morton’s neuroma, gout, or bursitis. Almost all of which I’ve suffered from at some point, bloody disease!
Identify what changed stop and think of what you’ve been doing, is it something you can pull back on, did you increase activity too fast, did you work a few extra shifts, did you start a different activity or did you start a new stretch. I did all of the above but I think the ultimate trigger was the new stretch! Movement is key, I don’t dispute that but, stretching like people without RA is too harsh for me. Seriously something happens every time. Pushing to obtain greater flexibility is not necessarily a good thing with RA. If you can change your way of thinking and just look at it as movement, doing the movement of stretching but with the goal of maintaining your Range of Motion ( ROM). The goal being to stop your joints from seizing and to stop your muscles, ligaments and tendons from shortening and getting sticky and stiff because of the lack of movement. Use it or lose it is my motto but, I had over stressed my feet trying to improve my range rather than maintain. So REST was in order
Rest giving my feet a chance to recover from being pushed too hard. (This may not be the true reason it could simply be my RA, but, I’m not willing to go there yet). I looked at what I could still do; I could go to the gym and sit on the recumbent exercise bike and still keep my body moving by taking the weight and pressure off my feet. I have a list for those days of alternative activities. A list I can read when I’m starting to think this is the beginning of the end. My mind needs to understand it isn’t the end (I have to show it) and my body needs to still move to keep me in my better place of coping. More about rest and activity on my blog here
Change it up try hard not to do one activity more than one day in a row. This requires restraint which is hard to come by when you are excited about finding something you can do! Try and remember you want to do it forever and the way to succeed at that, is to treasure it. Hold back, maybe do it once a week or every couple days. Listen carefully to your body. You want to be able to do it forever.
My not so supportive boots…
Wear supportive foot wear all the time. We tend to revert to this only when we are sore and our body has drawn attention to our pain. I wear my slippers (supportive comfy ones) with my orthotics and cushioned socks. No I haven’t always! I’m no super hero. This new setback has drawn attention to my limitations and I am doing everything in my power to maintain control. I replaced my work shoes as they were too old and had lost their support. This is what helped me! You may be the opposite and find walking barefoot in the grass or sand helps you. There are two schools of thought here. You decide!
Orthotics my orthotics now go into every pair of shoes I’m going to wear. Have custom orthotics made and if you can’t afford that, ask your Physiotherapist what stock orthotics you could purchase. Even if you don’t need them now, by using them now, you can prevent issues later.
Warmth I try not to let my feet get cold, I wear socks to bed, I have a hot pack warmed and ready for when I crawl into bed. I use a heat rub to create more heat to help relax the fascia, ligaments and tendons in my feet. This decreases the strain and pull on my joints those tissues will exert when they’re tight.
Schedule your medications have you been taking your medications regularly!? I wasn’t… sometimes it doesn’t seem like just the right day for me to take my methotrexate. I am not willing to feel blah, nauseous or irritable so I put it off, sometimes for more than just one day. I know (in my brain) this is not a good way for me to maintain control of my disease. But my heart says not today. I promised myself for two months to maintain the schedule I wrote on my calendar and set reminders on my phone. I attributed the improvement in my health to the renewed consistency. I did not flare during this time, maybe because I was doing my best to be consistent with my medications. I’m willing to bet you have noticed too how your body feels cruddy as you draw nearer to the day you’re scheduled to take your BIOLOGICS or MTX. This is because our body needs them.
NSAID’s are very helpful for foot pain and inflammation. If you can take them, set yourself up on a regular schedule during flares or injury.
Anti inflammatory topical cream or gels my go to, as it doesn’t irritate my GI tract. Feet have a more difficult time absorbing topical medication as the skin is thicker and tougher. The medication cannot penetrate the skin as well. But, it will still have some effect.
Heat rubs help too by keeping feet warm and again relaxing those tight muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons so they can’t exert pressure on your joints. This will also offer you some relief.
Crutches, a cane, braces, and splints ask your rheumatologist or Physiotherapist if this is an option for you.
Elevate and ice elevation is your friend and this applies to everyone. When you sit down make a conscious effort to prop your feet up on a stool, the coffee table or up on the couch. It will decrease your swelling and subsequently your pain as there will be less pressure from the swelling on all your sore bits and pieces (joints) in the foot. It also takes the load or weight off. Ice can decrease the inflammation. But, some people like myself cannot tolerate the application of cold. It doesn’t make me feel better! Listen to your body, it’s very individualized.
Not getting better
Ask your rheumatologist what options you have you won’t be the first patient they have helped with foot issues, they may have a few tricks up their sleeves. We don’t have to assume it’s just part of our disease and therefore something we have to live with. Steroid injections, splints, braces and sometimes surgery are all other options.
Add to your support team a Podiatrist. That’s the podiatrist’s role is to identify and treat your foot ailments, diseases and deformities. They should be able to pinpoint what’s wrong with your feet sometimes when your rheumatologist can’t. That’s their speciality!!
Physiotherapist may be able to offer advice to strengthen, relax and adjust the mechanics of your foot and calf or even further up the muscle chain. All possible contributors to your problem. This will also help provide some relief and support
Physiotherapist taping once you have seen your (professionally trained) Physiotherapist who has identified your issue, research it. Have them teach you ways to tape your foot yourself. In my case, I was able to use kinesiology taping and once I was shown how, I could do it myself. If the therapy is not working, speak up! Sometimes the problem is something that needs to be worked through and there is more than one issue that needs to be addressed. For my issue I used this taping method.
Myofascial release again as directed by your physiotherapist. Once they have identified the problem there are many methods you can do at home. Take control and listen to your body. If one method helps use it! If another method seems to cause you more pain and you notice no improvement (actually causing a worsening of symptoms) stop using it. To give you an idea of what I use for my current foot woes this short clip will give you an idea.
I’m lucky RA hasn’t stopped me walking for sooooo many years, I just have to keep finding ways around it. Maybe I’m just in the bargaining or denial stage of grief… it’s becoming apparent my grief ain’t fluid. I don’t seem to go from one step to the next until I reach my goal of acceptance. Grief has accompanied me through all my years with RA. Each time another hurdle jumps in my path, I regress back to an earlier stage. This is gonna be a life long process dammit!
But I walked today! I taped my feet up, put on my new boots with my cushioned compression socks and I got to enjoy this:) right up my alley and just my kind of distraction.
Hang on to your hope! Try a few of these things, one of them will help you manage, I know it! Follow this blog by email and you won’t miss a post. I will also send you the occasional newsletter identifying more ways to cope than you will find here. Please click “follow” and add your email if you don’t want to miss a post (check your spam account if you don’t receive them). Would love for you to comment and share if you think you know someone this could help or you have found something else that helps you! Thank you!
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