According to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 adults in the United States with arthritis report living with severe joint pain that limits their daily activities. With joint pain being such a common problem in our society, it’s no wonder why there’s such a plethora of self-managed pain management solutions available today. From over the counter medications to natural/herbal remedies to customized workouts for joint pain, many patients rely on self-care to lessen the pain on a daily basis. While these steps are important for everyday pain management, they are often not a viable long-term solution as arthritis is likely to worsen over time. When this happens, patients not only have to limit their daily activities and stop doing many of the things that they love – but they also have to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with this change in lifestyle. Unfortunately, this can then have a negative impact on our most important and intimate relationships, causing those with joint pain to “lose that loving feeling”!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we asked our founder, Dr. Robert Dean, to shed some light on how chronic joint pain from arthritis can impact romantic relationships and to share his tips on how couples can work together to not only manage the pain but also the emotional toll it can take.
“When you are living with arthritis, you have to manage more than just the pain,” says Dr. Dean. “You have to manage how the pain impacts your daily activities and make decisions around what you should and should not do keep the pain in check. For example, some patients may have to switch from their regular exercise routines to low-impact ones designed for joint pain. Others may have to take caution when playing with their grandkids, walking the dog, or gardening.”
According to Dr. Dean, this is where additional stress and anxiety that can impact intimate relationships can come into play.
“As human beings, we are used to being in control of our daily activities based on what makes us feel happy and healthy,” he says. “When those options are reduced or taken away, this can lead to feelings of sadness and isolation. This is when patients need to pay close attention to their stress and anxiety; if not managed properly, this can have a negative impact on their relationships.”
So, how can individuals living with chronic joint pain work with their significant others to get the help and support that they need? Dr. Dean recommends the following tips:
- Be open and honest about the situation and what each partner needs. Often, we tend to reach for the right words to soothe our loved ones when they are struggling, but in the case of chronic joint pain, there’s really no way to sugarcoat the issue. While the partner living with the pain needs to feel unconditionally supported through the journey, the other partner may need permission to participate in some activities that the other cannot. Knowing that you have the full emotional support of your significant other will go a long way in reducing stress and anxiety and reinforce the trust and love that’s been the foundation of the relationship.
- Schedule activities that you can do together. If one person in the couple is limited but the other isn’t, it’s important to continue to do things together to strengthen the bond and enhance the feeling of support. So, if your loved one has to skip tennis, golf, or whatever activities you both enjoy, then make sure to schedule a time to walk around the neighborhood together instead.
- Hold each other accountable. Part of joint pain management involves making better dietary choices and to minimize weight gain due to any reduction in activity. Making these types of lifestyle changes is never easy, but if you have a partner along with you it’s much easier. And it will help you both to stay accountable!
- Make time for romance. There’s nothing better than shutting out the noise of the world around us and sharing a romantic date with our significant other – no matter how many years you’ve been together. Some ideas include cooking your favorite healthy meal together at home, sipping your favorite wine by the fire or while watching the sunset or just carving out distraction-free time to talk with one another. Not only will this help keep stress and anxiety at bay, but it will also help to keep that spark that brought you together alive and well!
“Nurturing our romantic relationships is one of the keys to a happy and healthy life,” says Dr. Dean. “We can’t control the body’s natural aging process, but we can control how we accept it and how we support our loved ones along that journey. It may not cure the pain, but it can go miles in terms of motivating patients to keep up their pain management routines.”
So, if joint pain has caused you to lose that loving feeling, try following Dr. Dean’s tips this Valentine’s Day! Not only will these tips help you stay connected with your significant other each and every day, but they will also help you stay positive and focused while you manage your joint pain.
If you are living with chronic knee, hip, or shoulder pain and have been told that joint replacement surgery may be your only option, AROmotion can help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for our non-surgical treatment that has helped more than 1,800 patients stop their joint pain fast. Just fill out the form below and a team member will contact you!
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