Review: LivRelief cream

LivCorp Inc’s Delivra, the company that makes LivRelief homeopathic pain relief cream, claims that its product relieves arthritis pain by delivering the active ingredient, a topical analgesic called Ruta 3X through a new process also called Delivra ™.

I’ll be upfront, here: I’ve always been seriously skeptical about homeopathic remedies. But I agreed to try LivRelief cream and review it because, well, as someone who’s lived with rheumatoid arthritis for close to a quarter century, I still dream of finding something—anything—thalivpainrelieft might relieve the pain this intractable autoimmune disease causes. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, LivRelief cream will be the one.

Since it came in the mail, I’ve used LivRelief cream several times on mild-to-moderately painful RA-inflamed joints in my hands, fingers and wrists. I’ve also used it at the base of my small toes on my left foot and on my right knee. Finally, I’ve tried the cream on both my hips. They ache frequently—and almost constantly—from RA’s co-morbid condition, trochanteric bursitis, and I figured why not?

That first time, I tried it on my hands and wrists. Within 10 minutes of using the recommended amount of cream—two short squirts from the pump-bottle—the sharp, twingy pain I was experiencing eased up. A couple of minutes later it was completely gone. As a nice bonus, the cream made my skin feel well-moisturized and silky-soft.

Whoa, thought I. This stuff works!

I was delighted—and genuinely surprised. I’ve tried and tossed out so many topical pain relievers over the years. Most of them had either capsicum (cayenne pepper) or menthol as the active ingredients in them. The menthol ones were pleasant but had no “relieving” effect on my pain. The ones with capsicum added the intense sensation of scorching, blistering skin to the already aching joints that lay just beneath it. I always ended up washing it off. Frantically.

So, discovering that LivRelief cream worked was wonderful.

Unfortunately, it only worked that one time. When I tried it again on my hands the next day, nothing but softened skin happened. LivRelief also had no effect on the small joints at the base of my toes, or on my knees. Finally, it did nothing for the bursitis pain in my hips.

Well, except for softening and moisturizing my skin.

Why did it seem to work that first time? I really don’t know. Maybe the pain in my hands would have gone away shortly, anyway. Rheuma is weird—the pain almost always comes and goes suddenly and without reason or warning. One time the flare will last three minutes, the next time, three-quarters of a day. Or maybe the gentle massage I gave my joints as I was rubbing the cream into my skin helped to relieve the pain.

Here’s what I know: the cream worked miraculously well once, but my wily old rheuma-dragon figured out how to overcome and disable the beneficial effect after that, no matter which joint or part of my body I used it on.

BobbyOrrSo, do I recommend that you try LivRelief cream on your achy, painful RA joints? The legendary hockey star Bobby Orr certainly does, stating on the website PRWeb that “LivRelief has improved my quality of life … I would recommend it to anyone suffering with pain.”

You can purchase the cream online in its 2 oz. pump bottle through Amazon for $27.86 or GNC for $29.99.

Cookware that’s made for rheuma hands

I’ve got a product review for you today: the Tremontina All Generations line of cookware. The company asked me to give their 10-inch Teflon©  Platinum Nonstick Sauté Pan a try, then write a review for RheumaBlog. The idea was to

THE TRAMONTINA All Generations 10-inch Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Saute Pan has earned the Arthritis Foundation's Ease-of-Use Commendation.

THE TRAMONTINA All Generations 10-inch Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Saute Pan has earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation.

point out the pan’s pluses for people with diseases that attack the joints, making them stiff and painful. “Why not?” I thought.

When the pan arrived in the mail, I was impressed by its weight–and a bit worried. One of the biggest challenges I face when I cook is lifting hot, heavy pots and pans. I fear that the rheuma will make my grip suddenly dicey; I do not want to drop pans full of boiling or searing food.

I know I’m not alone in this.

But I do love to cook, and heavier, high quality cookware tends to stand up to frequent use and can last for years, even decades. A pan with a correctly made, heavy bottom conducts and distributes heat better, which allows the food to cook more evenly. This is a good thing, you know? It saves time. It means less stirring and less gripping of utensils in sore, twingy hands. And you don’t end up with some parts of the dish overcooked and some undercooked.

Still, maneuvering a heavy pan with arthritis-wracked hands can be truly daunting. But Tremontina planned for that. Instead of just the traditional, single long handle on the sauté pan, they’ve added a second, smaller one directly opposite the long one. I found that I could lift the full pan easily with both hands, dividing the weight evenly. It balances perfectly, regardless of the amount of food inside.

That is a big deal.

Here’s another really nice thing about the Tremontina sauté pan: it’s that smooth, Teflon© Platinum nonstick coating. You don’t really need any butter or oil to keep food from sticking to this pan, but if you do want to use some for flavor, a dab will do quite nicely. Watching your weight? This pan will make it a little easier.

And clean-up is simple. Just tip the pan and whatever remains inside will slide out smooth as a belly-down penguin on an ice-flow. Scrambled eggs, sautéed onions, reduction sauces and gravies–all come off the pan in a jiffy, without scrubbing, even if the food was accidentally overcooked and you expect it to be a real chore to clean the pan. I really appreciate this perc. Scrubbing can be downright painful.

You do need to season the pan before you use it the first time, but it’s a simple process that takes all of a minute. You should use wooden, plastic or silicone utensils to avoid scratching the non-stick surface. And to avoid damaging the pan, you must always cook on medium heat. No biggie, though: the pan conducts heat so quickly and evenly there’s no need to turn the burner up any higher.

The handles have comfy, ergonomic,  silicone-covered grips. You don’t need a pot-holder in each hand to avoid burning yourself. And the lid is made of clear tempered glass so you can see the food as it cooks. It also has a silicone-covered handle.

I’m trying not to gush. Really. But this is, honestly, about the best sauté pan I’ve ever used. There’s this, too: the Tremontina All Generations line of cookware Ease of Use Logohas been given the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation.

You can buy Tremontina cookware at Target, Wal-Mart, and online. The seven-piece set runs about $60, which dropped my jaw, it’s so amazingly inexpensive. It comes with a lifetime warranty. And finally, it’s made in the USA. (cue the patriotic music!)

If you’d like to take a better look at this great cookware and learn more about it, visit this website. And don’t forget to scroll down and watch the short CNN news video on the right-hand side. It explains how products like the Tremontina All Generations line of cookware are tested for use by people with diseases that cause joint pain and weakness.

Next time:  my review of the homeopathic pain-relief lotion, LivRelief.

Sleeping dragon

I stand at the kitchen counter, looking at the array of pills laid out next to the sink. It’s dawn. My hips, aching with bursitis, have forced me out of bed once again and my RA is making my body feel as stiff as thick cardboard. Moving takes effort. It hurts.

I stand there, blinking at the pills. What do I take? My brain must be stiff too. Oh. Right. Take the ones from the daily pills thingy first. The morning RA drugs: sulfasalazine and plaquenil. They keep the rheuma-dragon drowsy and slow. There’s Ranitidine, toPill_Box quell the nausea the plaquenil invariably causes. Then the rheuma supplements: calcium and Vitamin D for strong bones (cross your fingers) and a multi-vitamin. Finally, a teensy loratadine tablet for the year-round grass allergy that living in the valley with Mom has so rudely reawakened in me. (At my home up in the mountains I only took the allergy stuff now and then. Here with Mom, I either take it every day or live with constantly clogged sinuses and itchy, red, watery eyes. Bleh.)

I run a glass of cold water, snap open today’s pill compartment and shake the fistful of pills into my palm. I swallow them all at once, then force myself to gulp down the rest of the water. There. Now for the pain meds.

My rheumatologist told me again last month that the RA drugs are keeping my dragon quiet and sluggish. I have to believe him–he has Scientific Blood Test sleeping dragonResults to back up his assessment. But I ache anyway. My rheuma-dragon may be much weaker than he was, but he’s still pushing hard against the bars of his medicated cage. Each push represents, to me, another throb of pain in my hands or my hips or both.

It may be only a shadow of what it once was, but it’s still pain. It dogs my existence. I gaze at the pill bottles. What to take?

There’s tramadol. It’s my favorite, a benign but fairly effective painkiller with no side-effects that I’ve noticed. Next to it is hydrocodone (Vicodin). It used to be my Number One pain med, an opiate I could count on to push the pain way back and send my mind floating sweetly away. But I didn’t dare take it if I had to drive or work or be responsible for anything, which naturally limited its usefulness.

Today, Vicodin is in definite second place. I’ve taken it for so many years, off and on, that my brain no longer reacts much to it. Its rarely any more effective than tramadol, and even the maximum dose doesn’t send me floating gently away from my misery anymore. My pain and I remain rooted firmly in reality.

This is the trap that narcotic painkillers set: to keep them working, over time you have to take higher and higher doses. Eventually, you’ll take a dose that will kill you. It’s the main reason doctors are so cautious about prescribing it, along with the fact that it easily makes the patient dependent on it.

I wonder, uneasily, what I’ll do if my dragon grows immune to the rheuma drugs and he wakes up? What will I do if my pain becomes huge again and the tramadol and Vicodin don’t work anymore? The thought itself makes me fearful. Memories of disabling pain flood my mind.

I push them away impatiently. Come on, Wren. Back to the here and now. We’ll deal with that when it happens. If it happens. Right now, though, your hips hurt. So, take some pain meds. Which should you take?

I refocus on the array of pill bottles in front of me.

Tramadol, Vicodin, and, finally, acetaminophen. You know that one: it’s Tylenol. I keep two strengths handy: extra strong (500 mgs per tablet) and arthritis-formula-strong (650 mgs per tablet). Alone, neither strength has any appreciable effect on even the sleeping dragon; I might as well pop a lemon drop and wish on a star. But they do boost the painkilling effect of the tramadol a little.

So, which is it to be this morning? Tramadol or Vicodin? Hmmmm. My mind does one of those odd little sideways slides: how about tramadol and Vicodin, it wheedles. And a couple of super-strong Tylenols, too? You know–the old one-two punch. That oughta shut the old dragon up for a while!

I actually consider it for a moment. But then I pull up short and tell myself not to be an eejit. Those two painkillers, taken together, could cause far more trouble than some bursitis pain. Both of them do their main work in the synapses of the brain, blocking different pain receptors, and each in their own way. Taken together, though, they could clash violently. They could cause my personal train to run right off the rails.

Visions of seizures and comas flood my imagination. Gods, no, I think.

Plus, I remind myself, taking that much Tylenol all at once (Vicodin combines 500 mgs per tablet in addition to the opiate) could do some serious damage to my liver. That poor, workhorse organ is already under stress, dealing with my RA meds as it does every day.

You don’t want to kill your liver, I mutter to myself, shuddering. Kill your liver and you die.

I decide to take the safest combination: the maximum dose of tramadol (two tablets) plus two extra-strength Tylenol tablets (1000 mgs total; 4,000 mgs per day, total). At this dose, I can take both pain meds three more times over the next 24 hours if I need to.

I usually do.

I take the painkillers with another full glass of water. And then I wait for the pain and stiffness to fade some. In an hour or so, I’ll be walking normally instead of stumping around like a miniature Frankenstein’s monster. The bursitis pain in my hips will still be there, but it will feel less intrusive, and the stiffness will mostly be gone. I’ll almost forget both–until I sit down for more than a few minutes and then need to get up. When I stand and move, the pain and stiffness will remind me yet again that I have an incurable autoimmune disease.

Both pain drugs will have mostly worn off in roughly three hours. I’ll start glancing at the clock, wishing I could take another dose. But I’ll have to wait six hours before I can, and by that time, the hip pain will once again be jostling for a place at the front of my mind.

Damn, I hate that.

All of what I’ve written about here took, maybe, a minute and a half in real time. Living with RA and its co-morbidities, such as hip bursitis, is a real, constant challenge. Even when the RA is “under control” there are symptoms of the disease that break through–and they’re just about impossible to ignore.

But I don’t want you to think I sit around every day whining and sniveling over my lot in life. I really don’t. Most of my days are just like anyone’s. I don’t work in an office anymore, but I do provide daily care for my elderly relatives. I plan and prepare meals, I shop for groceries, stop at the drugstore, run other errands as they come up. I take my mom and my uncle to appointments with their doctors and specialists and for blood and other tests. I spend, every now and then, hours and hours in the hospital emergency room with them, pacing or sitting on a hard metal chair. I take care of their pets, make their beds and carefully administer their medications.
holding hands
And I try to make them happy. To make them laugh, often. I admit that it’s all a lot easier to handle with my rheuma-dragon dozing. I don’t know if I could do it if he were wide awake, snapping and breathing fire in my joints. So I get on with life, telling myself it’s only the dragon’s dreams that ache in my hipbones and twinge in my hands.

I’m grateful.