Managing the Holiday Season With Rheumatoid Arthritis
As the festive season approaches, people get busier, streets get more colorful, and budgets get stretched. After all, gifts, parties, dinners and charitable donations all add up, and when you live with a chronic disease — and all the expenses that come with it — those extra costs can be too much to bear.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce your expenses around the holidays without letting your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) management lag. You’ll need to consider your medical care and self-care, but also new ways to express gratitude to yourself and to the people in your life.
Tips to Save on Prescriptions
The financial burden of RA medication is heavy all year, but it can be even worse when extra holiday costs begin to add up. Unfortunately you can’t eliminate the expense altogether, but you may be able to reduce it.
Talk to Your Doctor
Naturally, you should follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to treating your RA. However, many people fail to take full advantage of their doctor’s help. For instance, doctors are often given loads of free medication samples; ask them if they can give you samples of your prescribed medication to cut the costs, at least for the first month or two.
If the free sample route isn’t an option, talk to your doctor about a generic version, or switching to a similar drug that costs less. As research and advances in RA medication continue, more medication options are on the market than ever before. Take some time to investigate before shelling out your life savings on the first option you come across.
Finally, ask your doctor to write you prescriptions for a 90-day supply of medication instead of a 30-day supply. It may seem arbitrary to you, but many insurance companies will charge you less deductible when you buy in larger amounts.
Go Natural for Cheap Relief
You don’t want to give up on your pharmaceutical treatment (and certainly not before checking with your doctor), but supplementing with natural anti-inflammatories and pain reducers can be beneficial — and even save you from taking more pricey meds.
Some recent studies have shown certain compounds can have remarkable effects on the joints and tissues, plus their soothing nature can tackle the effects of building holiday stress. If you want to reap the rewards, you can:
- Nibble on ginger. Ginger is a pretty powerful root: studies show it can fight off the pain-causing chemicals in the body’s anti-inflammatory response almost as well as NSAIDs (like ibuprofen). It’s also tasty and soothing for the stomach, so don’t hold back.
- Sniff lavender or rosemary. Aromatherapy has long been hailed as a great stress reliever, but it turns out that it helps in other ways, too. Lavender and rosemary are two herbs that, when inhaled, can actually alter your perception of pain. Use the essential oil of the herbs, added to warm water or neutral oil.
- Make a rice bag. Fancy heating pads aren’t any better than homemade heating accessories. In fact, a simple cotton sock filled with raw rice, tied shut, and microwaved for a couple of minutes is a cheap, fast, and flexible method of getting soothing heat to the places that need it most.
- Mix up some hot pepper ointment. Capsaicin is the spicy compound in hot peppers, and it interferes with pain signals in your body before they reach your brain. Fresh chilies and ground cayenne work equally well to dull the pain when they’re mixed with a bit of oil and applied to the joint. It may burn a bit at first, but your body will get used to the spicy effect.
- Drink green tea. Recent tests on the effect of green tea in mice have returned very positive results: the tea-drinking mice were much less likely to develop RA than those who weren’t fed the tea. The polyphenols in tea are known to reduce cartilage damage, too.
It’s important to be just as careful around herbal supplements as you would around prescription medicine, since “all-natural” remedies can have powerful effects. Compounds taken in food or tea form are generally less concentrated than pills or tablets, so adding some arthritis-friendly ingredients to your regular menu is a safe place to begin.