Category Archives: Natural Healing

NatraCure Product Review, Part 1

RA is merciless when it comes to feet. When my disease was active my feet would become twice their size, which I tended to not realize until my socks started cutting off my circulation or I couldn’t get my shoes on.

Despite my remission and the overall improvement in my health, my feet have continued to be a source of never ending frustration, with burning and throbbing sensations becoming a constant. I can’t say I’m surprised though. According to my Fitbit, I’m averaging 12,000 steps on a slow day and as high as 15,000 on a normal day. As an elementary school teacher, I rarely ever sit down at my desk. This is all before yoga 4 times a week and the occasional hour on the elliptical or doing Zumba or running at the park. I take every opportunity I can to be active because I never know if/when my RA is going to come back with a vengeance. Regardless of how much I try to take it easy, my feet aren’t appreciative of my gesture.

I’ve tried ace bandage wraps, ankle braces, athletic tape, and Epsom salt soaks. I’ve tried wearing only one specific shoe to work and wearing nothing but sneakers on nights and weekends. There hasn’t been a high heel in my closet in over two years. These things have definitely helped manage the discomfort level, but I was still searching for something more immediate and effective.

A few weeks ago a representative from PolyGel contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to write some product reviews. PolyGel has a line of natural orthopedic gel products under the name NatraCure. Until recently, these products were only available through the medical professional market, but PolyGel is now makeing NatraCure products available to general consumers. While the line contains products to help with pain in many areas of the body, I requested to try products for my feet.

Today I’m going to review the Cold Therapy Socks. But first, I’d like to point out that I wasn’t paid to write this review. PolyGel did send me the products, but it was with the agreement that I would be completely honest with my readers.

The socks have three separate compartments and come with two removable gel packs per sock. One large gel pack is meant to sit below your foot. The smaller pack can either go in the pocket over your toes or in the one behind your heel.

NatraCure Cold Therapy Socks. $20.99. natracure.com

NatraCure Cold Therapy Socks. $20.99. natracure.com

You place the socks (with the gel packs in place) in the freezer for at least 2 hours. The socks are not meant to be walked on, so I grabbed a book and headed to the couch to relax.

At first I was skeptical that these would work, because cold therapy has never really been my thing. I prefer using heat to manage my RA pain because I’m extra sensitive to cold temperatures. I put the Cold Socks over my regular pair of socks to play it safe. Honestly, I probably never would have kept them on if I hadn’t, but this is a matter of preference. I wear a size 7 1/2 shoe, and the small/medium size socks (the blue ones shown in the picture to the right) fit perfectly. They hug your feet just tight enough to provide some compression without you worrying about cutting off circulation. Almost immediately I began to feel relief from the burning.

I kept the socks on for as long as I could personally tolerate, which was about 20 minutes. They were still cold to the touch and could have continued to provide relief, even though the gel packs were not as frozen. By the time I removed them, the throbbing in my feet had stopped completely. There was no aching, and I’m sure if my feet had been swollen, the socks would have helped with that too.

I’ve used the Cold Therapy Socks every night since receiving my package and I’m pleased with the results. The effects are not permanent, but I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in how I feel every evening. Plus, I don’t wake up with achy feet anymore, which always happened on the mornings after my super active days. So while I wouldn’t call the Cold Therapy Socks a miracle cure, they’ve definitely become my favorite way of treating my wounded feet. I told my mother I’m going to buy her a pair for her birthday.

Considering how much money I’ve been spending on Epsom salt and medical tape and whatnot, I’d say the $21 investment is worth it. Plus, the socks give you a chance to relax, and who doesn’t want an excuse for that?


Yoga and My Injury

yoga-241614_1280I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in a car accident and was worried that my RA would jump out of remission. Since, then I’ve been working hard at physical therapy to try and feel “normal”again, or at least get back to the point I was prior to the accident.Up until last week or so the pain in my neck and lower back was still bad enough to ruin my mood regularly.

I’ve been commiserating with a friend over our various aches and pains: she broke her back years ago and has  foot problems, and I’m a health mess in general from my RA and now from my accident injuries. She convinced me to start taking yoga with her. There’s a new studio a 15 minute walk from my house and they were offering a new student special. She brought me the class schedule. “We’re doing this. We need to,” she said.

Given my track record with yoga, I didn’t think this plan was going to go very smoothly. Doing yoga in front of my TV was always torture enough. Was I really going to attempt Downward Dog with my old lady joints in front of other human beings? Could I keep up with the pace of the class in general?

We signed up for our first class, Yoga Basics, this past Saturday. Quite honestly, if my friend hadn’t pushed me to go and she hadn’t been sitting on the mat next to me, I probably would have never done it. But I’m glad I went.

I walked out of that first hour long session feeling euphoric. I considered the possibility that I was only feeling a placebo effect, but I’ve gone back three times since and I’m still floating on a cloud after every session. No one there is judging my old lady joints. I’m stretching out muscles I forgot I had. And even though it’s only been a few days, I’m already beginning to feel stronger. I managed to do a plank for 30 seconds Monday night without falling!

I’ve experienced other benefits from my short time as a yoga student, but that’s for another day. What matters most is that I’m able to function normally again. No stabbing pain in my neck as I lean over a child’s desk. No back pain when I need to stoop to pick something off of the floor. I’m feeling stronger than I have since I was 18 years old. Best of all is that my creaky joints aren’t bothering me much anymore, except on rainy days. I’m still not letting the RA win.

 


Ginger and Joint Pain

Can you tell I’m trying to be clever with my titles? Anyway…

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

I got over the funk that my last doctor’s visit put me in. I’m not happy about my current situation, but I had my pity party and now I’m sucking it up and moving on. However, a recent surgery has made me reevaluate pain and pain medication. It wasn’t anything too serious. I had a piercing when I was younger that turned into a hypertrophic scar, and I had to have it removed. I opted for an in-office surgery with local anesthetic rather than going to a surgical center and being put under anesthesia. It was a great time for me to find out that I have a slight tolerance to local anesthetic. My doctor had to stop the procedure every so often to give me multiple injections of Lidocaine.  But I’m getting off track again…

2 hours later, I was sent on my way with 30 stitches in my ear and a prescription for Codeine. I have to admit, I was a little concerned at the idea of taking it. I hate popping pain meds, even Tylenol. I’m already taking 2 prescriptions twice a day, why take anything else? Thankfully, I only needed to take one Codeine tablet a little after I got home. Otherwise I was up and doing fine the next day. But the Codeine got me thinking…can I find an alternative to dangerous and highly addictive pain medications? I’ve read a few blogs written by people with RA who have to take the strongest pain killers out there. They write about how awful the withdrawal symptoms are and how they wish they weren’t taking narcotics.

I started doing some research. I found a few great natural remedies (and I promise I will write about each and every one of them at a later time) but the one that stuck out the most was ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and I thought that if I combined using it with my anti-inflammatory prescription, I would see better results than taking just the prescription alone.

Here’s what I do: I buy only fresh ginger (usually three or four roots at a time) from the local

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

supermarket to use in tea. I put a root in the fridge for use that week. I chop up the other roots into smaller 1 inch pieces and throw them into the freezer (that way I don’t have to put stress on my hands by trying to cut frozen ginger and I don’t have to worry about it rotting). When I’m ready to make my tea, I peel a piece, throw it in a mug with a green tea bag, a pour the hot water in. I put a small plate over the cup while it steeps so that the oils from the ginger don’t evaporate. Steep it as long as you normally would steep your tea. I love ginger, so I just leave it in the bottom of the cup and eat it when I’m done drinking the tea. I do this every morning, and I’ve noticed that I feel less stiff in the morning than usual. Before it used to take 10 minutes to get out of bed each morning; now I can get up as soon as my alarm goes off.

Ginger is supposed to help with more than just achy joints. I’m not a doctor so don’t take my word for any of this, but I’ve read online that ginger is good for colds and the flu, as well as morning sickness, migraines, and heartburn. Of course, check with your doctor to make sure that ginger won’t interact with any of the medication you’re on, but ginger tea is certainly worth a shot.


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