Pain That Cannot Always Be Seen, but Felt

You reach over to pick up your coffee and as you lift it off the countertop, your joints fail, sharp pain flying through your wrist to your elbow and that beautiful warm cup of coffee gets sent smashing to the floor. A beautiful crescendo of slow motion before the moment of impact which leaves you sweeping up porcelain pieces for days. If you are anything like me, it also finds you collapsed on a heap on the floor, feeling very sorry for yourself and contemplating buying steel coffee cups.

Hidden pain

Recently my daughter, who is four years old, asked me to pick her up and carry her, I explained that my arms were pretty painful and I was not able to do this. She stopped talking, gently looked to my arms and inspected them in great detail. To her surprise, she found nothing new that looked like it should hurt. “Mommy, there are no ouchies” she proclaims with great pride. I explained to her that not all things that are painful can be seen by others. She is accustomed to seeing my plaque psoriasis and being careful when I am in a flare, psoriatic arthritis though, her little brain is still trying to wrap around that.

The people around us are not always able to see the physical evidence of what we describe in many adjectives, ranging from uncomfortable to “dying a thousand deaths” before breakfast. This can often leave us feeling embarrassed and silly even.

Explaining pain to others

How do you explain this terrible pain that you feel every day, that you have to sit on the side of your bed before your feet touch the floor. Wiggle everything and twirl the ankles lest they give out on you when you take your first step of the day and you land face first on your floor.

Here are some tips from me around helping others understand and coping with the fact that some people just don’t understand and that it is okay for them not to.

  1. Do not be ashamed about the pain you are in. Talk about it.
  2. Be kind to yourself and do not try to push through the pain, this can cause damage.
  3. We all experience things differently, others will not always understand, that is okay too.
  4. Seek support from friends loved ones and people going through the same thing, or similar, I find it always helps to talk to someone who really does understand the type of pain you are in.
  5. When I am tired, my joints hurt more, so sleep more.

Early signs of PsA

Early signs to look out for if you are possibly suffering from psoriatic arthritis, if you are experiencing these, please contact your doctor and talk to them about solutions that are available to you in your area.

  • Sausage toes and fingers” - They will literally look like sausages and feel rather tight.
  • Stiff and painful feet when you wake up in the morning – This is my greatest sign that a flare is on the way.
  • Constant lower back pain, that is unexplained by anything else
  • Warm or even bright red skin around swollen joints
  • Pitted nails – This too tells me to prepare the arsenal as there is a flare brewing.

If you have psoriasis you will more than likely (or never at all) at some stage suffer from psoriatic arthritis, most of us experience the lesions on our skin first and then joints much later, however true to autoimmune diseases, it can come at any time with varying degrees of pain.

Leaving psoriatic arthritis untreated can not only be painful but very damaging to your joints.

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