Catch 22 – The Vicious Cycle

Everyone suffering from arthritis knows the pain and restriction it causes with mobility and exercise. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is no exception, and is often exaggerated by ‘ the flare up’  which blights us all. This exacerbation of symptoms and pain can last from hours to weeks in most people, and varies person to person depending on their management strategies. My own personal flare ups for instance can last anything from 5-14 days.

One of the identifying traits of AS is that pain and stiffness improves with exercise, which is not true of other forms of arthritis. All evidence and experiences of people with AS point to exercise/physiotherapy being as, if not more effective than ‘popping pills’, with the added long term benefit of strengthening key muscles. As a particularly stubborn person at times, I hate taking medication! Especially if there is an alternative that is equally or of greater benefit. Don’t get me wrong adequate pain relief is a critical part of any AS suffers life, and better control of pain and symptoms generally = improved quality of life. With all this in mind, it stands to reason that to help you get through a bad flare up you need to exercise. However if you can’t move because of you symptoms how can you exercise? Thus lies Catch 22.

Currently I am sitting (rather uncomfortably) writing this on the back end of a bad flare up, which has lasted for ~10 days now, and has even caused me to be off work (from what is effectively a desk job). I am sure I’m not alone when I say the worse my symptoms get, the more I become fatigued (which in itself could be classed as a symptom). Exercise really is the last thing I feel like doing at this point.  So at present its not something I’ve managed to put into a routine when I have a flare. Whether this is because of motivation, laziness, or for the fact that I’m just feeling too down to do it. Regardless this clearly needs to change for my own long term benefit. With a clear routine / management strategy in place for these difficult weeks, rather than doing the bare minimum to get by. But I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do this.

For those of you reading this that have been there and done that, what do you find helps with motivation? Is there a way to break the vicious cycle? I suspect there is no miracle answer, but as always your thoughts and experiences are welcome, regardless of whether you suffer with AS or arthritis.

Oh and have a Happy Easter all. 😀

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