Boost Your Antioxidant Intake
Load up on colorful fruits and veggies to boost your antioxidant intake and give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. According to the NPF, colorful fruits and veggies have been shown to reduce inflammation. Theyre also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and other nutrients.
Some nutritious choices include carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, figs, and mangos.
Consider Getting Tested For Sleep Apnea
In addition to making changes to your sleep routine, you may also want to talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder that can affect your breathing. Sleep apnea can leave you feeling exhausted even after a full nights sleep. People with RA are more likely to have sleep apnea.1,2 This difference seems to exist even when a flare is over and inflammation levels are low.3
Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
- Meditation prior to getting into bed.
- Avoiding coffee or other caffeinated drinks later in the evening.4
- Avoiding utilization of technology an hour before sleep, such as TV, phone, or tablet4
- Trying not to get into bed until you are ready to actually sleep, as opposed to reading or laying in bed beforehand.4
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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.
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.
When To Contact A Doctor
Although it is not always necessary to contact a doctor during an osteoarthritis flare-up, symptoms that persist for more than a few days may need medical treatment.
The doctor may request imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, to check for changes to joints and other damage. They will likely recommend medications to treat pain.
If necessary, the doctor may suggest additional treatments to address triggers, such as CBT for stress.
Osteoarthritis flare-ups are not always preventable, but some strategies can help minimize risk.
For example, people with osteoarthritis may find the following tips helpful:
- Maintain a moderate weight by making healthy dietary choices and getting plenty of exercise.
- Reduce stress through meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises.
- Take measures to get enough sleep.
- Engage in regular exercise to strengthen the bones, lubricate the joints, and increase muscle mass.
- Wear supportive braces to help protect and stabilize the joints.
- Use assistive devices to reduce stress on the joints.
Some foods and beverages that may help prevent inflammation include:
- fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are good sources of antioxidants
Creams Gels And Lotions
Topical creams, gels, and lotions can be rubbed directly onto the skin to help ease painful joints. As the skin absorbs the ingredients, you may experience temporary relief of minor joint pain.
Topical ointments can also come in spray form or patches. Products that contain capsaicin, salicylates, camphor, or menthol are standard for treating arthritis.
Theres limited current research on using these treatments for RA. Still, a 2017 study found that a gel containing menthol, benzocaine, and procaine hydrochloride resulted in temporary pain relief in people with RA.
Arthritis medications in the form of creams may also be effective.
According to a 2015 study, etoricoxib cream, piroxicam cream, and diclofenac cream reduced pain and swelling for RA, with etoricoxib cream giving the most relief.
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Get To Know Your Disease
The positive news is, living with PsA can become manageable as you figure out how it affects you. If the disease is new to you or early to you, flares are much more uncertain and scary, Dr. Husni says. Once youve had it for a longer period of time, flares become a lot less scary. This is a good time to have psoriatic arthritis because there are a lot of treatments available, more than we ever had before.
Employ Some Life Hacks
Crow also advises taking shortcuts that can make living with PsA flares easier. These life hacks can help minimize fatigue or joint pain, she says. If your joints hurt, you can change the stuff you are using in your daily life for example, if your hands hurt, you can use a wide-grip fork while eating. You can also change how you interact with stuff, such as choosing to have grocery delivery rather than exerting the energy required to go to the store and bag all the items yourself.
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Managing An Arthritis Flare
An arthritis flare is an episode of increased pain, fatigue, joint stiffness, swelling and tenderness. These symptoms may lead to a loss of functioning and interfere with peoples mood, sleep quality, and ability to perform everyday activities. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, flares can be triggered by a variety of things such as overexertion, infection, stress, poor sleep, medication changes or for no apparent reason.
To minimise the impact and help you recover from an arthritis flare as quickly as possible, consider the following tips.
Plan ahead to make things easier for yourself when an unexpected flare occurs. At work, try to arrange for days off, change your daily work schedule, work fewer hours per week or work from home. Make a plan with supervisors and co-workers ahead of time so you can transition smoothly when a flare occurs. At home, let family members know which responsibilities will be shifted to them in order to keep things running smoothly, have ready-cooked meals in the freezer, get a cleaner/gardener for the short term or let things slide until you are feeling better. Also ask friends for help, sometimes you just need to ask!
Rest & Sleep
See below for our resources on Managing Fatigue and Tips for a Better Nights Sleep.
Hot & Cold Therapies
For more info on using hot and cold therapies, see our resources below.
See below for our resource on Managing Chronic Pain.
Heat And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy could also help you get rid of rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Simply apply an ice pack to your inflamed joint and that would help ease swelling and numb pain. It will also help relax muscle spasms. Research from the year 2013 suggested that cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, might reduce pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, more studies in this matter are required.
If you are suffering from tight and aching muscles, you might get relaxation through a relaxing warm bath or a hot shower. Even by applying a hot towel, or a heating pad you can help relax tense muscles and also relieve stiffness and pain. According to a study of the year 2019, it was found that local heat application has reduced stiffness, pain, and disability in patients with knee osteoarthritis. You should always ask your doctor or physical therapist for proper guidance on using heat and cold therapy.
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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.
Causes Of Arthritis In The Hands
Arthritic conditions can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the small joints of the hands and fingers.
Inflammatory arthritis conditions, like RA, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis cause inflammation. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. In general, OA is degenerative, rather than inflammatory.
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Research And New Developments
We have recently funded research into palindromic rheumatism, which has given new insights into what goes on in the body during an attack or flare and the experiences of people with the condition.
This research used the latest ultrasound and MRI techniques to show that the structures around the outside of the joints are major targets in flares of palindromic rheumatism, and can be affected more than the joint itself. This pattern of inflammation isnt usually seen in rheumatoid arthritis and might allow doctors to better identify people with palindromic rheumatism.
Its hoped that a better understanding of the condition will improve ways of managing it and help in developing new treatments.
Ways To Avoid A Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, then you probably know what to do when your symptoms flare: Head straight for the medication! But how can you keep an RA flare from happening in the first place? Here, studies and experts weigh in on how to stay free of joint swelling and muscle pain and away from the medicine cabinet for as long as possible…
Youve been free of rheumatoid arthritis flareups for two years when suddenly you develop stiff, achy joints, extreme tiredness and a killer headache. Whats going on? Youre probably having a rheumatoid arthritis flare, or a temporary return of symptoms, says Martin Bergman, MD, a rheumatologist based in the Philadelphia area. Symptoms vary from woman to woman and may include inflammation, tenderness, redness, stiffness and joint swelling, as well as flu-like symptoms and fatigue, he says. During a flare, you can have symptoms for a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks. RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. It affects about 1.5 million people in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
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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.
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.
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Does Winter Make Your Arthritis Worse Heres How To Prevent Joint Pain Flare
Were a nation that knows a thing or two about joint pain. With around 10 million people suffering with arthritis, which can range from mild to severe, its one of the leading causes of disability in the UK.
But while the condition is fairly common, it is rarely understood. Arthritis isnt just one single disease, but actually relates to 100 different types of joint pain, which can range from a dull ache to crippling agony and the arrival of colder, wintry weather often causes symptoms to flare up.
The good news is, there are things that can help manage and perhaps even prevent arthritis-related pain when the temperature drops, so sufferers can enjoy a more comfortable and merry Christmas.
Here, Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director at Healthspan, gives us the lowdown on managing arthritis in winter.
How Will Palindromic Rheumatism Affect Me
Palindromic rheumatism varies from person to person. Some people find that their symptoms completely disappear between attacks, while others only have attacks occasionally.
However, some people experience more problems over time, and may develop rheumatoid arthritis. This is particularly likely in people whose blood tests show rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, which can be positive in rheumatoid arthritis.
While palindromic rheumatism doesnt cause any permanent damage to the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can. Even if you have a positive test result for these antibodies, you wont necessarily develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Very rarely, a small number of people develop lupus, and this is more likely in people whose blood tests show anti-nuclear antibodies.
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Hot And Cold Therapies
While it does not work for everyone, the use of heat or cold has been found to relieve osteoarthritis-related pains. Cooling seems to work better for more acute pains, and heat therapy is more effective for more chronic cases.
Specifically, topical anti-inflammatory ointments provide the most relief.
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.
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What Triggers An Arthritis Flare
Flare triggers are different for different types of arthritis.
Flare triggers are different for different types of arthritis.
If you have any type of arthritis, youve probably lived through a flare. A flare is a period of increased disease activity or worsening symptoms a time when the medications you normally rely on to control your disease dont seem to work. Many patients would also add that flares affect many other aspects of their life as well.
But why does this happen? According to Joseph Shanahan, MD, a rheumatologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and assistant consulting professor in the division of rheumatology, allergy, and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, The first thing I ask when a patient presents with a flare is whether they have been taking their medication as prescribed..
The causes of flares vary by disease so lets look at the triggers of each.
Inrheumatoid arthritis , a flare can be related to natural variations in the processes that cause inflammation. This means flares can vary in intensity, duration and frequency, but theyre usually reversible if treated promptly.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin and joints. Nearly 30% of people with the skin disease, psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Most people with PsA say a psoriasis flare will often precede a flare of arthritis symptoms.
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.
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