Tag Archives: RA

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?

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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.

 


RA After Bodily Trauma

To sum up a long and complicated story, I was in a car accident at 3am on Monday. My airbags deployed. My car was totaled. A trip to urgent care on Tuesday ruled out spinal damage, but I did get a diagnosis for bad whiplash. I’m taking muscle relaxers that make me feel groggy and bleh (which is the most accurate description I can muster at this point) so I don’t feel like writing much this week.

Since the accident, I’ve noticed two things. One being that I could potentially have Raynaud’s disease. It was -12 degrees with the wind chill factor the night of my accident. By the time the car was towed away and I was done talking to the cops, my feet were in so much pain that I couldn’t walk. The defrosting period was even more painful. It felt like someone was stabbing my feet repeatedly with a knife, and no amount of moving or sitting or rubbing my feet helped.

My second observation is that after Monday morning, my joints started feeling hot and swollen. I’m pretty sure I’ll be having a full blown flare soon. I’m wondering if the crash pulled me out of remission, since people often say that they were diagnosed with RA after a traumatic injury.

I made an appointment with my rheumy, so we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll be parking myself on the couch for the weekend.


Blogging and RA Remission

After a series of never-ending anxiety attacks a few weeks ago, I realized I needed to put on my big girl pants and get my life together. But that’s not the moral of this story. I took to the Internet in the midst of my anxiety attacks to search for a way to manage my anxiety without having to resort to medication. I already take more pills than I’d like to, thanks to my immune system.

If you type “Natural ways to cope with anxiety” into Google, one of the most common suggestions is to keep a journal of your feelings. That’s such a no-brainer that I felt stupid for not thinking of that on my own. And it’s not like I don’t have 21,484,o86,102 blank journals lying around. I get at least one for every birthday or gift-giving holiday (writer problems, except not really).

So, here’s the interesting thing. I found this article by Maud Purcell on PsychCentral.com which says the following:

There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being. University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Did this blog lead me to remission? I always thought of it as a place to rant about how much my life sucks sometimes. I never considered the idea that it might be a form of physical therapy. Would I still be almost bedridden if I never took the time to write here? Food for thought.

So, I guess I’ll have an anxiety journal and an RA blog. If it helps, then it’s worth the extra effort, no?

Leave a comment below if you journal for your health.

 


Guest Blogging- RheumatoidArthritis.com

A few months ago, I received an email from the people behind RheumatoidArthritis.com asking me if I’d like to be a guest blogger. They apparently found this lovely little blog and liked what they saw. So, I did it. This is the story that went live earlier this week.

I’m truly humbled. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a blog about my achy joints would become anything more than a place where I could post my grievances. Yet I’m constantly getting comments and emails from readers telling me how much my posts have been helping them (I know I’ve said this before. It just still hasn’t fully sunk in).

Anyway, let me know what you think about my guest post. I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my holiday break now.


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