Survival Tips For Managing An Ra Flare
A rheumatoid arthritis flare-up, or flare, can cause joint pain and swelling, fatigue, and anxiety. Thankfully, certain coping strategies can help you manage symptoms and perhaps even shorten the length of the flare, so you can get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.
Below are 15 tips for managing the symptoms of an RA flare-up at home. These suggestions are meant to be used in addition to the treatment plan recommended by your physician.
Diagnosis And Treatment For Arthritis Flares
If you think youre going through a flare that hasnt improved after a couple of days, call your rheumatologist or primary care doctor. They will want to monitor how you feel and may want to order imaging and blood tests to see whats going on. They can also prescribe medications to get the flare under control.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Psa Flare
An official definition of a PsA flare does not exist yet, but experts are working together to create one. PsA flares are different for everybody, since everyone has their own version of PsA. When your PsA flares, the symptoms of your PsA will be worse than normal. Sometimes, new symptoms can also occur.
For example, lets say you have psoriasis rashes on your elbowsand joint pain when your PsA is not well controlled. During a PsA flare, you could expect to have rashes, joint pain, or both. A new symptom might also show up if the flare is very bad.
Some typical PsA symptoms include:
Joint pain or swelling
Worsening of psoriasis rashes in new areas or areas that have been involved before
Enthesitis: Tenderness and inflammation at the site where tendons attach to bone, like the back of your heel.
Dactylitis: Swelling of an entire finger or toe. Also called sausage digit.
Spondylitis: Inflammation of the sacroiliac joints or the spine.
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Practice Good Hygiene And Safety Measures
Having inflammatory arthritis and treating it with immunosuppressant medications can increase your chances of getting sick from seasonal illnesses like the cold and flu. And if you do get sick, these factors can also make it harder to recover. Your immune system is too busy attacking the body to attack the germs. This can trigger an arthritis flare, says Dr. Wu.
Though getting sick may be beyond your control, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk, including:
- Washing your hands thoroughly and often
- Wearing a mask in public
- Limiting your exposure to people who are or may be sick
- Staying up to date on vaccines, including flu, pneumonia, shingles, and COVID-19
What Can You Do Ahead Of Time To Reduce Your Chances Of Having An Arthritis Flare
The best thing to do is to be aware of your baseline activity level, so you can prepare yourself if youre going to be doing more. Be cognizant if youre going to be doing something new, Clark said. That way, you can take precautions premedicate before going on a hike, for example.
If your symptoms bother you, come in and see your Summit provider for help. If it gets really swollen or painful, come to see us for measures to get you through it, Clark said.
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Heating Pads Or Cold Packs
Heat can be very soothing and is a readily available solution when having an arthritis flare. Heat penetrates the muscles and tissues, stimulates blood circulation, and can diminish the sensation of pain. When there is swelling around a joint, cold packs may produce more relief by decreasing inflammation.
Ways To Alleviate Arthritis Pain
If youre still in the early stages of treating arthritis, there are both natural and surgical options to choose from to help alleviate pain. For example, hemp seed oil or Kunzea cream are great natural alternatives to relieve muscular aches and swelling.
If natural remedies arent helpful, a joint replacement could be another beneficial option for end-stage arthritis. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in May 2021 found that 78 per cent of participants who underwent some form of replacement were completely satisfied.
With that said, its important to look after yourself your way and to stick with whatever works for your particular pain.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesnt take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means its not personalised health advice and shouldnt be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.
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What Makes Arthritis Flare Up
When you’re suffering from a painful condition like arthritis, you’re almost always looking for ways to keep your symptoms at bay.
We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that when an achey joint is acting up it’s a sign that bad weather is on the way…but can it really be true that something like a change in weather can trigger your pain?
“It’s true the symptoms of arthritis can recede and flare up. It’s also true that a change in weather can sometimes trigger a flare-up, which is often magnified when a certain type of arthritis is not being well-managed,” says Dr. Syed Alam, rheumatologist at Houston Methodist.
“While you can’t control the weather, the good news is that you can avoid other triggers of arthritic flare-ups as long as you know what type of arthritis you have in the first place,” adds Dr. Alam.
Arthritis is a broad term for pain, tenderness or swelling in a particular joint , and the three most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis when your immune system attacks the structure of your joint
- Osteoarthritis wear and tear damage that breaks down the cushion in your joint
- Gout when sharp crystals form and deposit in a joint
“When it comes to flare-ups of these types of arthritis, the triggers themselves aren’t actually the source of your pain. They’re just things that aggravate the underlying issues of the arthritis,” explains Dr. Alam.
Can Your Diet Trigger Psa Flares
Diet isnt linked to PsA flares specifically, but diet may cause psoriasis flares in some people. No studies prove that diet triggers psoriasis rashes for all people. But, for some folks, certain foods can be triggers. If you know certain foods or drinks worsen your psoriasis rashes, it makes sense to avoid them when trying to prevent PsA flares, too. Eating a healthy diet is also a good idea, since PsA increases the risk of heart disease.
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If Youve Got Arthritis Youve Probably Experienced The Intense Pain Of Flares Heres How To Handle Them
Youre feeling good, barely thinking about your chronic pain, and then wham an arthritis flare hits you like a Mack truck. These periods of increased disease activity take a toll on you physically and emotionally, especially because they can come on unexpectedly. If youve got either osteoarthritis or an inflammatory type of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, you probably know what were talking about.
So how can you deal with an arthritis flare-up when it happens? I remind myself, This, too, shall pass, arthritis patient Beth Bloomfield told us on Facebook. Like a kidney stone! another patient, Katie Resnick, joked back. Although arthritis flares are never pleasant, there are techniques that can help shorten their duration. Also important: Being able recognize when a flare is starting and avoid the triggers that may cause your flare-ups in the first place.
How Can I Manage My Gout And Improve My Quality Of Life
Gout affects many aspects of daily living, including work and leisure activities. Fortunately, there are many low-cost self-management strategies that are proven to improve the quality of life of people with gout.
For gout in particular:
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid foods that may trigger a gout flare, including foods high in purines , and limit alcohol intake .
CDCs Arthritis Program recommends five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms. These can help with gout as well.
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2. Try hot and cold packs. A heating pad or an ice pack can increase your pain threshold wherever you apply it, thus helping to decrease the sensation of pain, Dr. Ormseth says. Dr. Lee recommends cold therapy if joints are swollen because heat can worsen swelling. Apply a cold pack, like a bag of frozen vegetables, to swollen joints two to four times a day for 15 minutes each time. You can use heat if joints are painful but not swollen during your flare. Try a heating pad, warm compress, heat patch, or warm bath for the affected joints two or three times a day for 15 minutes at a time. Just make sure you dont overdo either treatment, hot or cold.
3. Soothe your body and mind. Give yourself some extra TLC to help your body recover from a flare. Though its not always easy, try to relax, Ormseth says. Practice relaxation techniques to help your mind and body calm down and recover. Engage in deep breathing, meditation, and visualization. Try a little pampering soaking in a warm bath, listening to soothing music, enjoying quiet time, or sipping on a steaming mug of tea the Arthritis Foundation suggests. Also, adds Smith, do your best to avoid physically and emotionally stressful situations.
4. Call for backup. The world doesnt stop when your RA flares, and neither do your responsibilities. When RA knocks you down, put a second action plan in place to address lifes other essentials work, family, and household chores.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, it is believed to be caused by a combination the following factors:
- The environment
Normally, the immune system protects the body from disease. In people who have rheumatoid arthritis, somethingpossibly infections, cigarette smoking, and physical or emotional stress, among other causestriggers the immune system to attack the joints .
Gender, heredity, and genes largely determine a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. For example, women are about three times more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
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Keep Moving But Pace Your Activities
Healthcare providers recommend that arthritis patients keep moving in order to maintain range-of-motion in their joints and muscle strength for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But, at the same time, it is important not to overdo activities. Overdoing activities and ignoring physical limitations can provoke a flare up.
The advice to pace your activities seems unbelievably obvious, but the desire to not be held back by arthritis makes it hard to do. Find the balance that keeps you moving at a reasonable pace.
Arthritis Flare Triggers And How To Manage Your Pain
An arthritis flare-up is a sudden increase in the severity of your arthritis symptoms which may include excruciating joint pain, swelling, reduced mobility, and fatigue. Lets consider some arthritis flare triggers and how to manage your pain.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, flare-ups may be caused by triggers to your immune system which include infections, certain foods, and stressful situations. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a degenerative joint condition characterized by breakdown of the cartilage and formation of bone spurs that could cause joint pain. Possible triggers for osteoarthritic flare ups include repetitive movements, physical injuries, cold weather, and joint infections.
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually the first line of treatment when dealing with arthritis flare ups. Other options include getting plenty of rest, avoiding activities that make symptoms worse, application of ice packs to reduce swelling, massage to stimulate blood flow, warm compresses to reduce joint stiffness, physical therapy, and the use of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit to alter the transmission of pain signals through the nerves. If the pain persists, prescription medications or pain injections may be necessary.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up
Because rheumatoid arthritis always causes a low level of inflammation, flares are common and sometimes occur without a trigger. Symptoms of a flare may include increased pain, swelling, and stiffness. Because rheumatoid arthritis also affects the rest of your body, you may also have fever, fatigue, and weight loss.
A common cause of a flare is decreasing your anti-inflammatory medication or missing a dose. Other triggers include physical or mental stress, changes in the weather, exertion, lack of sleep, or an infection like the flu, an upper respiratory infection, or urinary tract infection.
A rheumatoid arthritis flare may last hours, days, or weeks. A flare that lasts more than a week should be reported to your doctor. Your doctor may need to add on a mechation like a steroid, or change your current medications. To manage a flare, you should alternate rest with some gentle activity to keep your joints moving. Take your usual anti-inflammatory medicines as prescribed. A cold compress over a sore joint may reduce pain and swelling.
Should I Cut Back On Red Meat
Fatty red meats can trigger inflammation in your body. Red meat may make your symptoms worse.
Consider embracing a more plant-based diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. You can meet your protein needs by eating whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. When you eat meat, consider choosing lean options, such as fish and poultry. Try to stick to portions that measure about 3-4 ounces or the size of your palm.
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Have A Plan To Resume Your Medications
Because most women experience postpartum RA flare-ups within the first three months, especially after their first pregnancy, Dr. Kamat often recommends restarting or updating your medications within a week or two of delivery.
While you wont be pregnant anymore, these medications can carry similar risks to your baby if you breastfeed. You can still breastfeed if you have RA, but Dr. Kamat can help determine which medications are safest to use while keeping your RA symptoms under control.
To learn more about managing your RA symptoms during pregnancy, contact us in St. Louis, Missouri, today by calling or by booking through our online tool.
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Take Control Of Your Joint Care
Knowing that an osteoarthritis flare-up is manageable is the first step to minimizing joint pain and boosting joint health. The damage done may be irreversible, but there is much that you can do to prevent the flare-ups that can make things worse.
Of course, there are a number of medications designed to ease pain and swelling, but the best approach to managing flare-ups is with lifestyle changes.
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Common Medications To Treat Arthritis Flares
OA patients might just need some OTC pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Dr. Bose also recommends topical gels and lotions like diclofenac gel or 2 Old Goats. If that doesnt work, Dr. Ashany says joint injections of steroids may be given. RA flares are more complicated. In inflammatory arthritis, steroids are often used to try to quickly bring a flare under control, Dr. Ashany says. If only one joint is involved a steroid can be given by injection, but otherwise it can be taken orally .
In inflammatory arthritis, if flares continue to occur, this indicates that the patients regimen of maintenance medication is not adequate, Dr. Ashany says. This may lead to addition of a medication, switching one drug for another or increasing the dose of medication that the patient is currently taking.
Use Your Energy More Efficiently
During an RA flare, dont waste energy on activities that arent necessary or helping you get well. For example, sit down while brushing your teeth or doing your hair. If your finger joints hurt, wear clothing thats easy to get on and off. Ask family members and friends for help with specific chores and errands.
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Prevention Methods For Arthritis Flare
Prevention Methods for Arthritis Flare-ups The fact is, once youve experienced an arthritis flare-up, you wont ever forget it. The excruciating pain will put you on your guard against future attacks and certainly encourage you to develop a solid prevention plan. Flare-ups of RA, OA and lupus symptoms can occur after a period of disease remission. The exact causes of arthritis flares are not known, and it is important that you dont blame yourself for disease recurrence. Maintaining your medication regimen and following a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, the right amount of sleep for you, managing stress and not smoking can `help reduce the risk of flare-ups.
Here are some tips for preventing an arthritis flare-up. While these tips come with no guarantee, they are common sense actions which will cut your chance of going into a flare-up.