Do you live to cycle? If so, anything that gets in your way of hitting the trails or open road can feel like a serious setback. If you have a health condition, such as mixed connective tissue disease, or a similar illness that affects your joints and tissues, it’s important to find ways to cope with the pain and swelling. This starts with finding the right medical care as well as utilizing natural methods to find the right balance to manage your condition. Here are a few health issues you might deal with and how you can work on changing up your lifestyle to get back on your bike and be active once again.
Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis
If your doctor has diagnosed you with either dermatomyositis or polymyositis, you’ve likely been feeling the wrath of troubling symptoms for a while now. These two diseases are related because they both cause extreme inflammation and pain. Polymyositis causes your muscles to become inflamed and the result is painful and tender. Dermatomyositis is inflammation of the skin. This can be equally as uncomfortable and painful. In addition to skin inflammation and irritation, it can also cause:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Changes in weight
- Muscle weakness
These conditions are considered connective tissue diseases and are sometimes caused by an underlying medical problem such as cancer. Because they can affect your muscles and cause pain and weakness, biking and other activities can be hard to perform. Start off with low-impact activities and work your way up to longer distances. Try to do more biking between flare-ups.
There are also a variety of connective tissue disease treatment options available. If you’ve been diagnosed, you may also want to try holistic treatments such as massage therapy and eat foods that are high in omega 3, 6, and vitamin E. Be sure to consult with your physician before changing anything in your treatment regimen.
If you’ve gotten the diagnosis of lupus from your doctor, it can be troubling wondering what lies ahead for you. Lupus is also a connective tissue and autoimmune condition. It affects your skin, joints and vital organs by triggering inflammation. If you ride a bike and participate in other active sports, your lupus might be triggered. Because the effects of lupus go beyond just inflammation, you’ll need to be under a doctor’s care for the rest of your life. The key with lupus, because there is no cure, is to be as healthy as you can all of the time and to take steps to treat each health problem as it comes up. A healthy diet, keeping your weight stable and getting moderate exercise through biking or a low-impact exercise regime is recommended.
Have you been diagnosed with scleroderma? This condition can gravely affect your health and bring your biking habit to a screeching halt. Because of the buildup of collagen, over time, scleroderma causes your skin to get tighter and tighter. This is because collagen is one of the main components of connective tissue. The result is thicker skin resulting from scar tissue. In severe cases, this can make moving on your bike almost impossible. The problem with scleroderma is it can also target your internal organs, leading to more widespread issues. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you manage this condition so you can start to regain your physical stamina and get back on the road. More natural methods may include targeted skin creams, ultraviolet A1 phototherapy and other forms of light therapy. Physical therapy can also help improve your overall range of motion.
Another autoimmune disorder is RA or rheumatoid arthritis. This occurs when your immune systems hone in and go after your body’s own tissues. It mainly targets your joints, especially those in your hands, and triggers painful swelling. Over time this can cause bone erosion, breakdown, and deformity. It starts off as stiff joints that may feel hot to the touch. They can swell easily, especially after an activity such as bike riding. The problem with RA is it can lead to physical disability, making simple activities almost impossible. Using natural methods to keep your weight down, eating a healthy diet and visiting a physical therapist that specializes in working with RA patients is a great way to take care of your health beyond drugs and surgeries.
Use caution when biking with an autoimmune disorder or deficiency. Never stop medical treatments on your own and always ask your doctor for advice on what natural methods will help you with your medical condition.