Inflammatory Arthritis Versus Osteoarthritis
Knowing the type of arthritis, you have is the key to recognizing and managing a flare up. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage linings of your joints. Since wear and tear takes time, this type occurs mostly in older people. It may be more common in a joint that you injured at some time. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling, but not inflammation.
Inflammatory arthritis may be caused by a disorder of your immune system. Your immune system is your bodys defense system against foreign invaders like germs. If you have an immune system disease called an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks normal body tissues, including your joints. The symptom of the attack is inflammation of tissue in around your joints.
Autoimmune inflammatory arthritis affects many joints all over your body at the same time. This is also called inflammatory polyarthritis. This type of arthritis is a long-term disease that is often diagnosed in young adults. Both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are common types. Inflammation adds symptoms of redness and a feeling of warmth to affected joints along with pain and swelling.
Be Compliant With Your Treatment Plan
Once your healthcare provider has established a treatment regimen for you, stick with the plan. Don’t skip your medications or other treatments. It is important to keep inflammation and pain under control. Skipping medications gives your body a chance to flare up, allowing pain and inflammation to increase.
Arthritis can be likened to the embers of a fire, smoldering and looking for an opportunity to re-ignite. Don’t knowingly help it ignite.
Foam Roll A Few Times A Day
I never realized the importance of foam rolling for joint pain until I had knee surgery last year.
Before then, I had foam rolled occasionally or during physical therapy treatments, but not all the time. This is now something I do twice a day to help joint pain.
During a flare, I will even increase the frequency to three times a day, and do more specific foam rolling for my joints.
You can foam roll almost any muscle in your body. I focus on my arms, all the muscles around the knees, and my upper back. You should talk with your doctor or physical therapist to learn the best foam rolling moves for your problem areas.
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How To Treat Arthritis Flare
The best treatment for arthritis flare-ups is good prevention so that they do not occur at all. However, when they do happen, here are some tips on how to manage flare-ups to get yourself moving freely again.
Rest in Moderation
Obviously, rest is an important part of treating an arthritis flare-up because too much activity can cause or worsen a flare-up. However, it is also not a good idea to stop moving entirely, because this can make joints stiff, making the flare-up even worse. Motion is lotion for many chronic pain conditions, so make sure to attempt some sort of movement. Even something as simple as raising your legs in your chair can help.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat can help soothe muscle pain by relaxing the area and improving blood flow. Cold can reduce inflammation and numb the nerves in that area. Both of these therapies can be used , depending on your specific flare-up and how you are feeling.
Get Good Sleep and Listen to Your Doctor
It can be hard to sleep with an arthritis flare-up but practicing good sleep hygiene is a great way to help your body heal. Also, continue to follow through on prescribed treatments from your doctor. This is especially true if your flare-up is caused by a lapsed course of treatment.
Previously She Had Experienced Joint Flares But Then A Severe Whole Body Flare ‘crept’ Upon Her
Many flares came on without warning, but overuse of or trauma to a particular joint could produce a joint flare. Other flare triggers included cold or hot weather, getting too cold, stressful situations and certain types of food .Flares reduced general mobility and affected walking, eating and personal care. They also disturbed sleep.People found relief from the symptoms of a flare in many different ways. Changing medication included increasing the dose of painkillers, anti-inflammatories or steroids and if the flare persisted people had steroid pulses/injections and joint injections . Getting rest and sleep and using heat or cold were most often used. Some people said that hot baths, hot water bottles, electric blankets, heat pads and putting affected joints, e.g. hands, in hot water worked for them. However another group of people we interviewed felt that keeping joints cool if they were hot and swollen was the answer. People used ice, cold water, cold wet towels, cooling foot cream and wet wipes. One man described the relief he got for his hands. TENS machines, wrist splints, a supportive foam knee cushion and rubbing Tiger Balm on joints and fasting for 48 hours were also mentioned.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hand Surgery
Recovery time depends on many factors, including the severity of your condition, type of surgery you had, the skill of your surgeon and your compliance with therapy. Most people can return to their activities about three months after joint reconstruction surgery. Your team of caregivers can give you the best estimate of your particular recovery time.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis To Flare Up
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more sinister forms of arthritis. Not only can the damage to your joints lead to swelling, stiffness and pain, there’s no way to undo it aka, it’s permanent.
With rheumatoid arthritis, there’s likely always some low level of inflammation affecting your joints, but it can also flare up in response to stress or, believe or not, the weather specifically, rain.
“When you’re stressed, either mentally or physically, your body is less equipped to handle the inflammation caused by your condition,” explains Dr. Alam. “Since it leads to swelling and stiffness, more inflammation means more intense pain.”
As for why a change in weather might trigger a flare up of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s all about joints under pressure.
“Changes in weather, such as rain, are often accompanied by changes in air pressure, and this change is thought to affect the pressure within your joints making any underlying swelling feel more painful,” explains Dr. Alam.
While you can’t control the weather, you can take steps to reduce your stress levels. And when a flare up hits, you can use a cold compress to reduce the inflammation that’s causing some of your pain.
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When To Get Medical Advice
See a GP if you think you have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, so they can try to identify the underlying cause.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important, because early treatment can prevent it getting worse and reduce the risk of joint damage.
Find out more about diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.
Work With An Occupational Or Physical Therapist
Dr. Wu also suggests enlisting the help of an occupational and/or physical therapist. They can help you make meaningful lifestyle changes so you can cope with the disability and still remain independent, she says.
Keep in mind that occupational therapists and physical therapists provide different services, though both can be beneficial to people with arthritis.
- Occupational therapists work with patients to help make daily tasks easier. This may mean teaching them how to use assistive devices or providing ways to modify activities to make it easier on the joints.
- Physical therapists devise treatment plans for patients to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
Learn more about the difference between occupational therapists and physical therapists.
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When To See A Doctor About A Flare
If you’re experiencing joint pain that flares up from time to time, Dr. Alam recommends being evaluated.
“For many people, arthritis starts as a flare-up, and it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Remember, you need to know the specific type of arthritis you’re suffering from to be able to prevent or alleviate future flare-ups,” says Dr. Alam.
For instance, you won’t know whether to use ice or heat to relieve your joint pain unless you know if it’s rheumatoid arthritis or gout as opposed to osteoarthritis.
“In addition, and particularly for rheumatoid arthritis, seeking a diagnosis early on gives you a better chance of avoiding the permanent joint damage this condition can cause,” explains Dr. Alam.
And even if you’ve been diagnosed, there are still times you may need to see your doctor about a flare-up.
“It’s very important to call your doctor if you’re experiencing pain in a new joint or if your flare-up is severe, since this could be a sign of arthritic infection,” warns Dr. Alam.
If you’re experiencing a mild flare-up in a joint you’re used to experiencing pain, your doctor may be able to help you manage that pain by prescribing medications over the phone but only if he or she is already familiar with you and your condition.
Lastly, Dr. Alam recommends approaching supplements with skepticism.
How To Treat An Arthritis Flare
Sometimes arthritis flare-ups cannot be prevented. At this point, all you can do is get through it the best you can. There are some things you can do that may help provide you some relief.
Make a Plan
You should try to have a plan in place for when you are experiencing arthritis flare-ups.
If you have unavoidable activities that cannot be canceled when your arthritis acts up, let the key people involved know what is happening that way, accommodations can be made.
Apply Heat or Cold
You can choose to use a hot or cold compact or a hot/cold cream, whichever better fits your needs. If you are using a heating pad or an ice pack, youll want to apply it directly to the painful area for 15-20 minute intervals throughout the day. For the hot/cold cream, youll need to follow the product instructions and be sure not to overuse the topical treatment.
When youre already in pain, its essential to get enough rest. You dont want to put more pressure on your inflamed joints.
You may feel like you are getting behind, but your body needs the time to rest to not prolong the pain. Dont push yourself during a flare.
While you must get plenty of rest during a flare, you have to be careful of being too still.
Its crucial to get in some low-impact movement like going for a short walk or stretching. There are also hand exercises you can do to keep the joints from becoming stiff.
Consult Your Doctor
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How Is Arthritis Treated
Theres no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help you manage the condition. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the arthritis, its symptoms and your overall health.
Conservative treatments include:
- Medication: Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may help relieve your arthritis symptoms. Some medications, called biologics, target your immune systems inflammatory response. A healthcare provider may recommend biologics for your rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
- Physical therapy: Rehabilitation can help improve strength, range of motion and overall mobility. Therapists can teach you how to adjust your daily activities to lessen arthritic pain.
- Therapeutic injections: Cortisone shots may help temporarily relieve pain and inflammation in your joints. Arthritis in certain joints, such as your knee, may improve with a treatment called viscosupplementation. It injects lubricant to help joints move smoothly.
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Get The Facts About Jak Inhibitors The Newest Class Of Fda
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.
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What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
Tips For Managing An Arthritis Flare
Use these tips to manage arthritis flares when they arise.
1. Tips for Managing an Arthritis Flare
2. Plan ahead with your rheumatologist.
3. Plan ahead at home, too.
4. Watch the signs
5. Guard against infection
6. Give it a rest.
7. Care for your emotions
8. Slow down dont stop.
9. Apply the heat and the chill.
10. Exercise your mind.
11. Ask for help.
12. Practice good sleep hygiene
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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.
Beginners Guide: Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up
This post is 100% inspired by the fact that Im currently experiencing a rheumatoid arthritis flare up! A lot of people dont know what it means what I say that Im having a flare, but flares are an annoying part of living with RA. In fact, a flare is how I got officially diagnosed with RA 10 years ago this July. So in this post, I use my personal experience to explain them, as well as information from reputable sources.
As a reminder, Im not a medical professional. Im a patient and Im using medical sources in this post. Additionally, this post does contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Kate the Great!
Whether youre a newly-diagnosed RA patient, someone who knows and cares for an RA patient, or someone has a similar type of arthritis, I hope that this post helps you in some way.
This post will address:
That being said, lets get into the meat of the post!
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Can Arthritis In The Hand Be Prevented
Arthritis cant be prevented. However, you can watch for symptoms of arthritis as you age and see your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your joints. You can also take steps to control factors that you can control. Eat healthy to nourish your body and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more stress on your joints. Dont smoke. Smoking increases your risk of arthritis.
When Flares Seem To Last Forever
While it can sometimes feel like a flare is lasting forever, we found that there is a wide variety of experiences in how frequently people experienced flares and how long they lasted.
Among people who took the survey, almost three-quarters of people with PsA experienced flares monthly or even more frequently, with flares lasting several weeks.
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How Long Does An Arthritis Flare Last
The length and severity of an arthritis flare is unpredictable and differs from person to person. Different people may also have different triggers for their flares. The best advice is to listen to your body and become aware of your flare triggers. It may help to keep a flare diary and work with your doctor to developing a flare management plan. Avoid treating a flare a supplement, unless you talk to your doctor first. If you are having frequent flares or a severe flare that is not responding to your usual home care, call your doctor. Sometime a flare needs medical treatment to prevent permanent joint damage.
Can Imaging Exams Detect Arthritis
Imaging exams can help your healthcare provider get a clear picture of your bones, joints and soft tissues. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound can reveal:
- Bone fractures or dislocations that may be causing you joint pain.
- Cartilage breakdown around your joints.
- Muscle, ligament or tendon injuries near your joints.
- Soft tissue inflammation.
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Prepare Ahead Of Time
Keep track of when your flares happen so you can learn to identify triggers. If you think, for example, that weather affects your flares, OA patients need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds, Dr. Bose says. In addition, RA patients should stay compliant with their medication regimen. If you suspect your diet could be a culprit, monitor what foods youre eating, says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who works with arthritis patients and a clinical professor at Boston University.
Have a plan for when flares inevitably occur. Jacobs says to arrange ahead of time with your employer to work from home or make other adjustments if needed. An inflammatory arthritis patient will often, in time, have a sense of whether they are starting to flare, Dr. Ashany says.