Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Medications and alternatives

Since my pain med was taken off the market by the FDA, I’ve had a difficult time finding pain meds that work and that doctors are willing to prescribe for me.  My ortho says – pain meds should be maintained by the GP.  My GP says – if you are on delauded then the doctor who prescribed it has to continue prescribing it. 

This is just dandy for me as I’m left with no pain meds but over the counter pain relievers.  Anyone who has regular pain knows that this is frustrating and difficult.  I have no control over the doctors.  I can’t make them prescribe drugs for me.  My only option is to find other ways to manage my pain. 

To this end, I’ve found heat works well for me.  When my knees, ankles, and other joints are screaming with pain, I put a heating pad on them.  I’d love to have a hot tub but that is outside my budget.  The heating pad puts heat right on the joint which eases most of the pain.  I know I’m unusual for this – most people prefer ice packs.  The only time an ice pack helps is when I have a migraine and I put a cold cloth or ice pack on the back of my neck.  Ice or cold (like the sub-zero weather we’ve been having) actually increases my pain.  I avoid it as much as possible.

When the pain is at a tolerable level, I make a point of moving the joint.  For my ankles, I will do flexes and points of my foot as well as circles to keep the joint as limber as possible.  For my knees, this is harder because my one knee almost never stops hurting but I try to do gentle motions that keep it moving.  Too much walking or standing make the knee hurt more.

Slippers help keep my feet warm.  I’m a barefoot girl.  I don’t like stuff on my feet but walking across cold floors and letting my feet get cold is a sure way for my pain level to spike.  Using slippers keeps the cold away from my feet and the pain at bay.

I’ve had so many people tell me “You need to get up and move more”.  In all honesty, I’ve tried this and all it does is aggravate my knees further.  Having my legs at a particular angle makes it so they don’t hurt.  When my pain level is high, this is all I really care about. 

On those mornings when I can’t close my hands, I use hot water to wash away the ache.  Then I also crochet on a nightly basis.  This helps to keep my fingers limber.  One of the hardest things I have to cope with is a cold steering wheel.  Thick gloves go on my hands before I touch anything outside.  Unfortunately my hands still get cold so I’m still looking for something to protect them better.  I may crochet a steering wheel cover but I have a concern about the cover slipping while I’m driving.   

Massaging lotion into my hands helps to limber them up and warm them up.  It also helps other joints like my wrists, elbows and so on.  Getting a professional massage definitely helps with my pain level but the budget isn’t all that happy when I spend money on massages.

With our extreme cold weather, I put a scarf between my knee and anything cold.  I use my long scarf to cover up the knee when I’m on my scooter in the cold.  It gives it another layer of protection. 

Ultimately, I’m going to have to figure out the pain med issue, but in the meanwhile, these little tricks help make life less painful.  I just have to find a doctor I trust – this is no easy feat.

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