Severe chronic pain is a part of life for many of us with sarcoidosis, even with the use of pain medications. I’ve come to cope with my round-the-clock pain by accepting it as part of my “new normal” with sarcoidosis.
Instead of being hellbent on trying to find a way to be pain-free, I focus on getting my pain to manageable levels. Before reaching for pain medications, which I use as a last resort, I try the following:
As hard as it may be to get moving some days, I know that I will feel better if I do. Numerous health risks have been linked to sedentary lifestyles. Research has shown physical activity not only improves general health but also can reduce pain. Aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility training are all beneficial. Any amount of physical activity helps.
Ice and heat
I apply heat to achy muscles and joints in the morning and prior to exercise, and ice afterward for 20 minutes. I also ice my knees when I get in from work or from running errands that have kept me on my feet, as well as any other time I experience significant pain.
Wearing compression garments after workouts has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and aid in recovery. But I’ve also found general use of compression garments to be helpful in reducing my pain levels. I have compression shirts, leggings, and gloves that I reach for when my pain ramps up. The only downside is that once I take them off, the pain returns to its previous levels.
When pain sings falsetto in my knees, feet, hips, or back, I wear my best sneakers with custom orthotics whenever I’m on my feet. I even ditch my slippers at night. If you suffer similar pain, a trip to an athletic shoe store to be professionally fitted for a pair of sneakers could help. A local shop that fitted me gave some advice to live by:
- Don’t skimp on your athletic shoes. Buy quality brands with good support and cushioning.
- Buy your sneakers a half-size larger because your feet swell when you exercise and as the day goes on.
- Replace your sneakers every 3-6 months (depending on use). Only wear your workout sneakers at the gym, not for general or daily use, because it affects the wear patterns.
Seeing a podiatrist may also bring some pain relief. I left with custom fitted orthotic shoe inserts after finding out that one leg is slightly shorter than the other, which is very common and can cause back, hip, and knee pain, plus other issues. I was also told to stop wearing any shoes that lack proper arch support, especially summer favorites like flip-flops, slides, and sandals.
Relieving pain is just one of the many short- and long-term health benefits of laughter. When the worst of my pain hits, laughter is what I turn to. I’ll watch funny television shows or movies or spend time with friends and family who make me laugh. Whenever I come across funny memes, videos, articles, or online comments, I’ll bookmark them or save them on my phone for those days when I need a laugh.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.