MAKING LIFE EASIER WHEN YOU SUFFER FROM ARTHRITIS…

Last Saturday, the 12th October was the 22nd World Arthritis Day.

It is a day designed to raise global awareness about all facets of the disease.

Arthritis affects approximately 350 million people worldwide.

Among the long list of diseases considered to be in the arthritic family are ankylosing spondylitis, gout, lupus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is an inflammation of the joints and can affect one or multiple joints. The symptoms usually develop over time but the Arthritis Foundation say that early treatment is the best treatment. Finding things to make your life easier is important to any sufferer. It is not a condition just for the elderly, children as young as 3 can be diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

The theme for 2019 is Time2Work , which was part of the EULAR Campaign Don’t Delay, Connect Today to highlight the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

On the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society site they said that Professor Dane Carol Black wrote these words in her report to Tony Blair’s government “Working for a healthier tomorrow” in 2008. ”Work is central to human existence and the motive force for all economics. For individuals, it provides structure and meaning and is good for people’s health and well being as well as their financial health and prosperity. Moreover, work benefits families and is socially inclusive.”

Almost a decade later, the report which the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society published in collaboration with the University of Manchester at the end of 2017 entitled “Work Matters” is a very important survey of more than 1000 people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Despite a number of government initiatives, the survey suggests that many people with inflammatory arthritis are struggling to find the type of work that they want.

However, just being able to travel to work and get around the environment can be a real worry to some sufferers. Where do you begin in finding out about the different types of mobility aids and wheelchairs to help you get around? Well, one such company called Pro Rider Mobility is a great place to start. They have a vast choice of mobility scooters, wheelchairs and other mobility aids to choose from. A Pro Rider Mobility Motorised Wheelchair could turn your life around in an instant, allowing you to get from a to b easily.  

The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society also have a great video on this year’s ‘Time2Work’ event which focuses on how and why employers should provide better support for people with rheumatoid arthritis and other long term conditions in the workplace as this benefits not only the employee but the employers as well.

Although I was always under the impression that most of my spinal pain was mechanical, disc related and failed back surgery an MRI I had a done eighteen months ago showed my spine also had some arthritis in it. I’ve still not had a discussion about this nor been given any different type of medication for it but after reading more on this disease I think it is something I will bring up in the future.

There are a number of sites you can find on the internet with all the information on the different types of arthritis but leading on from the recent Awareness Day and campaign some have more details about the Time2Work which I will list here for you.

The Arthritis Foundation

The National Rheumatoid Arthritic Society

The Global Rheumatoid Arthritis Network

Arthritis Care UK –

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SLEEP SUNDAY, LET’S TALK ABOUT SLEEP…

Sleep SundayLet’s Talk About Sleep. Sleep dysfunction and chronic fatigue are common in many disorders including Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Arthritis and mental illness.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, two out of three people with chronic pain have trouble sleeping and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, say over 40 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder and another 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.

Experts estimate 25-40% of patients with chronic pain have insomnia, many times the rate among those without. It’s estimated that 50-80% of chronic pain patients report sleep disturbances. The worst is when pain and sleep loss get into a downward spiral of awfulness, leading to low quality of life. Pain makes it hard to sleep, poor sleep makes the pain subjectively worse, and both lead to depression, which also affects sleep disorders and pain experience. Recognizing that pain and sleep disorders often go hand-in-hand can sometimes help to solve the problem.

Sleep they say has a naturally recuperative power. A greater emphasis on sleep may help patients improve their daytime functioning. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a possible solution for both living with pain and alleviating problem sleep, but maybe they should include some ‘sleep clinics’ in the ‘pain management’ programmes.

Does pain make the sleep worse or does poor quality sleep degrade make the pain feel worse? Both. Don’t discount the effect that a good night’s sleep can have on a person’s quality of life and ability to tolerate pain. The subjective intensity of pain decreases when a person is well-rested. Hyperalgesia – increased sensitivity to pain – is a result of loss of sleep, especially the loss of REM sleep. Which is ironic, because the opioid drugs used to treat severe pain suppress REM sleep and may make patients more sensitive to the pain they feel. Antidepressant drugs could also suppress REM sleep and make us complain about pain more (maybe this is partly the cause of the stereotype of the diva). Poor sleep quality is correlated with more severe pain and increased fatigue.

Some people do truly believe acupressure to help you sleep. Some tips are to place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the centre of your breastbone, at the acupressure point known as ‘Sea of Tranquility’. Now close your eyes and apply steady pressure, not too hard, for a minute or two. You will then soon feel tension, anxiety and stress start to slip away.

You could also use your first two fingers and tap them across the top of your head from temple to temple. Then work from front to back and side to side as this can get blood and oxygen moving to ease tension and restore focus.

To destress your shoulders make a gentle half-closed fist and with a loose wrist, tap your right hand gently but firmly up your left arm, along your shoulder and up the side and back of your neck. Repeat the same process on the other side to ease tension and release endorphins.

If any of these did work for you then please let us know.

THERAPEUTIC KNITTING THERAPY FOR CHRONIC PAIN, FIBROMYALGIA, DEPRESSION AND MUCH MORE…

Knitom wrote in an article that ‘Knitting is an effective, easily accessible tool that everyone can use to manage daily stresses. But it is also a valuable self-help tool for those dealing with more serious mental health issues and/or medical conditions.  The main conditions that therapeutic knitting is used for are:

  • Stress
  • Low mood
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

Research at Cardiff University found that the more frequently people knitted, the happier and calmer they said they felt.

Eighty one percent of respondents said they felt happier during and after knitting, and 54% of the respondents who were clinically depressed said knitting made them feel happy or very happy.

Similar to a yoga flow, the rhythm of working the same stitch over and over again calms the heart rate and breathing, creating a feeling of stability and inner quiet.

The Independent wrote ‘ Knitting won’t just result in a new sweater – research has found the hobby can also reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, and distract from chronic pain.

Published by Knit for Peace, the findings are the result of extensive research into previous studies analysing the benefits of knitting, as well as the initiative’s own research.

According to Knit for Peace, a network of over 15,000 knitters in the UK who knit for people in need, there is substantial evidence that suggests knitting is beneficial to a healthy mind and body.

Knitting, has proved a perfect way to switch off and relax, even better than meditation which some people find hard to practice.

Knitting groups are also popping up all over the country where you can meet up with fellow knitters and catch up on all the gossip.

A physiotherapist (Betsan Corkhill) was so convinced of it that she set up a knitting group in the Chronic Pain Unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and founded Stitchlinks which aims to provide support and friendship through knitting and stitching worldwide.

Experts feel that there’s a neurochemical effect on the brain which undoubtedly changes brain chemistry for the better, possibly by decreasing stress hormones and increasing feel-good seontonin and dopanine, while knitting.

The UK’s Hand and Knitting Organisation who has a list of knitting groups throughout the UK explain why joining a group will make it even more beneficial.

  • They provide an opportunity to make new friends who already share an interest.
  • They can get you out of the house and give you some ‘me time’.
  • Knitting group members are always willing to help each other with advice when someone runs into difficulties with a project.
  • They give opportunities to share and swap patterns, and check out new yarns. Some even run yarn swap sessions.
  • Chance to work on group projects from yarnstorming to charity knitting.
  • Company at a yarn show. Yarn events can be more fun with others to share the joy of squishing a colourful skein and admire a new pattern.

Knitting groups come in all shapes and sizes and meet a variety of places – check their list to find one that’s right for you.

As most of my readers know I have recently moved from the East Midlands to West Sussex and so I decided I would definitely join a knitting group once I was settled in but I missed the monthly meeting so I decided to go to a crochet class instead.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to crochet but I soon found out it wasn’t right for me as I needed to look down at the stitches for to long which meant it was pulling on my neck fusions and causing me pain.

I don’t have the same problem with knitting as I’ve been knitting for so long that I hardly look at the needles. So although knitting is without doubt very therapeutic it may not be suitable for everyone depending on their circumstances.

They are extremely sociable though, so much so, I rang to ask if I could still come to the class, pay my fees but bring my knitting as it was the whole group that I enjoyed.

4 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BACK PROBLEMS BUT WITH SIMILAR NAMES…

Back pain comes in an array of different conditions with some that have similar names which can make it a bit confusing. Four similar conditions are SPONDYLOLISTHESIS, OSTEOPOROSIS, SCOLIOSIS and SPONDYLOSIS SPONDYLOLISTHESIS

Spondylolisthesis is where one of the bones in your spine, known as a vertebra, slips out of position.

It’s most common in the lower back, but it can also happen in the mid to upper back or at the top of the spine at the back of your neck.

Spondylolisthesis is not the same as a slipped disc. A slipped disc is when a disc (the tissue between the bones in your spine) moves out of place.

Many people may not realise they have spondylolisthesis because it does not always cause symptoms.

Symptoms can include:

  • lower back pain – which is usually worse when you’re active or when you’re standing, and is often relieved by lying down 
  • pain, numbness or a tingling feeling spreading from your lower back down your legs (sciatica) – this happens if the bone in the spine presses on a nerve 
  • tight hamstring muscles 
  • stiffness or tenderness in your back 
  • curvature of the spine (kyphosis)

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.

OSTEOPOROSIS…

Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break (fracture).

The most common injuries in people with osteoporosis are:

However, breaks can also happen in other bones, such as in the arm or pelvis. Sometimes a cough or sneeze can cause a broken rib or the partial collapse of one of the bones of the spine.

Osteoporosis is not usually painful until a bone is broken, but broken bones in the spine are a common cause of long-term pain.

Although a broken bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis, some older people develop the characteristic stooped (bent forward) posture. It happens when the bones in the spine have broken, making it difficult to support the weight of the body.

Osteoporosis can be treated with bone strengthening medicines.

SCOLIOSIS…

Scoliosis is where the spine twists and curves to the side.

It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15.

Scoliosis doesn’t normally improve without treatment, but it isn’t usually a sign of anything serious and treatment isn’t always needed if it’s mild.

Signs of scoliosis include:

  • a visibly curved spine 
  • leaning to one side 
  • uneven shoulders 
  • one shoulder or hip sticking out 
  • the ribs sticking out on one side 
  • clothes not fitting well 

Some people with scoliosis may also have back pain. This tends to be more common in adults with the condition.

SPONDYLOSIS …

Cervical spondylosis causes neck pain – often in the over 50s. A GP should check more serious cases affecting the spine.

Ageing causes wear and tear to muscles and bones – called cervical spondylosis. 

Symptoms include:

  • neck and shoulder pain or stiffness – that comes and goes
  • headaches – often starting at the back of the neck

Source : NHS England

OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT : HOW FOOT CARE CAN HELP OTHER AREAS OF THE BODY…

Many of us will be on our feet each day, and yet they can be one part of our body that gets the least pampering and attention. We rely on our feet to get us from one place to the other, and to still look amazing in pretty little peep toe shoes. But, according to articles on reflexology, our health can have much to do with certain zones of our feet, which is why it may be worth spending some time and showing them a little love every now and again. Taking care of your feet to avoid any other health problems could help other parts of your body feel less strain. With that in mind, here are some of the things to consider.

ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF A FOOT SPA…

A foot spa is actually a very relaxing piece of equipment, and can not only help you relax but can be a tool to help you get your feet in better condition. The massage jets can stimulate circulation in your feet and also help to soften up hard skin on the soles of your feet. You don’t need to head to your local spa for this, although that can be a nice treat, but you can actually by home versions which are just as good. It means you can take advantage of it any time you like. 

BE AWARE OF HEALTH PROBLEMS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR FEET…

As we are on our feet a lot, and take advantage of getting from one place to another, we can often not realise that you could have ongoing health problems with them. Pain in certain areas of the foot, pins and needles regularly, numbness or just aches. From things like Morton’s Neuroma to Plantar Facititas it is worth recognising when it is a normal ache and pain and when something is a little more serious. Pain in your feet can travel up your legs and spine, so it is definitely worth getting things treated before they end up worse than what they started as. Something I have suffered from in the past.

AVOID SITUATIONS WHERE YOU CAN GET INFECTIONS…

There is always a chance that you may get some sort of infection in your feet. One of the most common is athlete’s foot and this can be contracted by being around someone who is already infected, or simply having something damp on your feet like wet socks or shoes. It isn’t always pleasant, but it can be treated. There are some great tips and ideas online. 

TAKE SOME CARE WITH YOUR TOE NAILS…

While you need to take care of your feet you also need to consider the condition of your toe nails, they can also get infections if you are not careful. Not cleaning out toes nails or letting them grow imperfectly can cause huge damage in the long-term. This can lead on to toe nail fungus or ingrown toenails which left untreated can be extremely painful. Always ensure that you cut your nails down correctly and keep your nails in good condition. 

Let’s hope these tips help you to take better care of your feet.