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
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.
What Is Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis associated with the skin disease, psoriasis. Psoriasis causes small-sized to large-sized patches of red, scaly, and itchy skin. Patches of psoriasis frequently appear over bony prominences such as the elbows and knees. Psoriasis affects 1-2% of the population and of these patients with psoriasis, approximately 10% will go on to develop inflammatory arthritis.
Most of the time, the arthritis portion of psoriatic arthritis begins after the patient has had skin disease for many years. However, sometimes the arthritis may be the first feature, or the arthritis and skin lesions may appear together. Psoriatic arthritis may have several different types of presentations. The most common is the involvement of just a few joints. Some patients with psoriatic arthritis may resemble a patient with rheumatoid arthritis with multiple joints. Some patients may have a predominance of involvement of the spine, and some patients may have digits that look like sausages. Other patients may have lots of inflammation where tendons attach to the bone.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Arthritis
The most common symptoms of inflammatory arthritis are:
- Joint pain and stiffness after periods of rest or inactivity, particularly in the morning
- Swelling, redness and/or a feeling of warmth in the affected joints
- Inflammation of other areas in the body, such as the skin or internal organs like the lungs and heart
People with inflammatory arthritis generally experience alternating periods of âflaresâ of highly intense symptoms with periods of inactivity.
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.
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Monitoring And Discussing Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Pain is pretty subjective and variable, says Dr. Schulman. How people perceive and tolerate pain may differ a lot from person to person.
Some patients with little joint tenderness may experience a lot of pain, and some people with really bad inflammatory arthritis dont experience any pain, she notes.
This is why its important to monitor your pain and be open with your rheumatologist about the level of your pain, your personal threshold for pain, and whether the pain seems new or different from your past RA pain. Pain is very tricky for everyone involved, says Dr. Domingues. There is no lab test for pain, so we really need to have a good honest doctor-patient relationship to gauge pain.
Tracking your RA pain can help you better understand your condition. Join ArthritisPower, a patient-centered research registry, to learn more about tracking your RA. .
Having an open dialogue with your doctor can help them identify the causes of your pain whether RA inflammation or a co-occurring condition is the likely culprit and come up with a treatment plan. Treatment is very different for fibromyalgia than for rheumatoid arthritis than for osteoarthritis, notes Dr. Domingues.
What specifically does your rheumatologist want to know about your pain?
Keeping a pain diary can help you clearly communicate the details of your pain to your rheumatologist. Here are some questions to consider when monitoring your pain prior to your next visit whether in-person or telehealth:
Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up Triggers
Dr. Mukais many patient interactions have helped her to identify several potential RA flare up triggers. She counts:
By avoiding these foods and sticking to a , youll likely reduce your RA symptoms severity.
Excessive physical activity can also trigger an RA flare up. If you participate in exercise or sports that could result in an injury, follow protective guidelines to keep yourself safe. By learning to identify the start of an RA flare up, you can moderate your activity accordingly.
Finally, airborne toxins can trigger an RA flare up. Besides cigarette smoke, these harmful substances include chemicals such as household cleaners. Switching to environmentally safe cleaners may help. Airborne toxins are a particular cause for concern in densely populated cities and other areas that experience air pollution and smog. To minimize your risks, stay indoors during periods of poor air quality.
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What Is An Arthritis Flare
Summit explains the term arthritis flare-up and shares what you can do when you experience one.
Arthritis is a common and painful condition that happens when a joints cartilage wears away. Without cartilage to cushion the joint and act as a buffer, the bones can rub together. This causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Its a chronic condition that can make everyday activities difficult. But what does it mean to have an arthritis flare-up?
An arthritis flare-up refers to an acute increase in pain, swelling, and stiffness in an arthritic joint. Its a worsening of the chronic symptoms that people generally have. During an arthritis flare-up, you have more disability associated with that joint. Your symptoms are worse, and youre less able to do the things you normally would, whether thats climbing stairs or playing tennis.
Working With Your Doctor
You may not need to see your doctor every time you have a flare-up.
However, if pain and other symptoms last beyond a few days, you may want to make an appointment. Your doctor can investigate any symptoms that seem to be progressing, such as a reduction in flexibility.
Tracking flares through a journal or app can help you and your doctor to monitor the progression of your OA. The information you collect can help inform the decisions you make about treatment.
Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. These can help identify changes that might indicate whether youre experiencing a flare-up, long-term damage, or both.
If the results suggest new changes, your doctor will help you adjust your treatment plan to take these into account.
In time, flare-ups may become more frequent and symptoms can start to affect your mobility and quality of life. At this point, you may wish to consider joint replacement surgery.
Surgery is usually the last option for treating OA, but many people find it resolves recurring flare-ups and decreases the pain.
for OA and an OA flare-up usually involves a combination of over-the-counter or prescription medications and home remedies. Talk to your doctor about the options below.
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Triggers For Flare Ups
Rheumatoid arthritis An RA flare is mostly due to inflammation, but what triggers inflammation? The triggers for inflammation are not specifically known yet, though extensive medical research is in progress. It may be stress, weather or too much physical activity. There is no definitive medical research proving weather impacts arthritis, but many patients have noted their joints react to a change in barometric pressure and humidity or when it is cold. Other triggers include infection or any illness compromising the immune system, and medications.
Osteoarthritis Flare ups are not triggered by inflammation from an immune system response, but inflammation may be one of the symptoms of an osteoarthritis flare. Scientifically proven flare triggers still do not exist, but there are certain activities that have often triggered flare ups. They include falling on or injuring a joint, repetitive motions and overuse. Other causes include infection, stress, weather and obesity or being overweight. In some cases, continued deterioration of the cartilage can lead to bone spurs developing which then further irritates the joint and possibly the surrounding tissue.
Psoriatic arthritis Most people experience a flare of psoriasis before a flare of psoriatic arthritis. The suspected triggers for a flare are stress, weight gain, physical trauma, joint strain, infection and medications.
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
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What Is A Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up
A rheumatoid arthritis flare up describes a short-term escalation of your RA symptoms. A flare up can subside within a day or two, or it can persist for several weeks or months.
An RA flare up generally involves joint stiffness and pain, although it can manifest itself as a worsening of any symptom. If the flare up is especially severe, it can affect your ability to perform your everyday activities.
Ai Mukai, MD, a physiatrist with Texas Orthopedics Sports and Rehabilitation in Austin, Texas, emphasizes that RA flare ups are a known part of rheumatoid arthritis and its course and symptoms. Dr. Mukai, who possesses board certifications in pain medicine and physical medicine & rehabilitation, is also a SpineUniverse Editorial Board member.
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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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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.
Comprehensive Joint Supplements To Help With An Arthritis Flare
There is not a cure for arthritis. However, there are different medications and supplements that can ease its symptoms. Most treatments aim for remission, where the patient has few or no symptoms. When treatment is preventative or begins early in the disease process, this can help minimize or slow damage to the joints and improve the quality of life for patients. Treatment usually involves a combination of medication, supplements, exercise, rest, and protecting the joints.
An effective joint supplement addresses arthritis symptoms, and may even reduce the occurrence of an arthritis flare-up. Flexcin is a joint supplement that has all-natural and effective ingredients. It is highly reviewed and has a reputation for good manufacturing practices. If you have arthritis and suffer from flare-ups adding a daily joint supplement may be a course of action for you. Flexcin helps many people combat arthritis flare-ups without the harmful side effects of pain medications.
The Flexcin formula contains all-natural ingredients: CM8, Glucosamine Sulfate Potassium, Hydrolyzed Collagen Type II, MSM, Bromelain, Vitamin C, Manganese, Zinc, and an enzyme blend. The combination of these powerful ingredients increases energy, builds up the immune system, and decreases joint pain and inflammation.
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Follow Your Treatment Plan
Work with your rheumatologist on an action plan that you can initiate in the event of a flare, says Smith, and follow it to a T when a flare kicks in.
Everyone experiences RA and flares differently, so management strategies differ too, adds Michelle J. Ormseth, MD, a rheumatologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. In most cases, a regimen of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and a corticosteroid can bring minor flares under control. More severe flares may call for an immunosuppressant drug or, if youre already on one, a change in that drug, along with a corticosteroid to help tame inflammation and other symptoms.
Ra In Hands: What Hand Joints Are Affected By Rheumatoid Arthritis
Its no fun waking up like this: your hands ache. Your fingers are stiff and sometimes twisted. They may even feel hot and tender to the touch. There is no good hand that isnt plagued by these symptoms. Its another flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis , a malady that can affect any joint in the body, but frequently settles in the hands.
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How Long Does It Last
Arthritis flare-ups can be variable, but they generally last three to five days with conservative care. Home care can include anti-inflammatory medicines, changing activities, and using ice, compression, or bracing.
If doing those things isnt helping after a week, come in to see us, and we can help it along, Clark said. Office-based treatments like joint aspiration and cortisone injections can provide relief from an arthritis flare-up.
Over the long term, its smart to keep track of how many flare-ups youre having. If they are increasing, it might be time to look into injections or surgery. If youre having more bad days than good, its worth having a discussion about what we can do to fix that, Clark said. Its a quality-of-life issue.
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When To Seek Treatment For Your Arthritis
Arthritis doesnt have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commissions Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at to schedule a consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
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Soothe Your Body And Mind
Give yourself some extra TLC to help your body recover from a flare. Practice relaxation techniques to help your mind and body calm down and recover. Engage in practices like 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.
Where possible, adds Smith, do your best to avoid physically and emotionally stressful situations.
Signs Of A Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare
Whats more, people with rheumatoid arthritis have different receptors on their immune cells MHC receptors which are more likely to bind to self-proteins, explains Ashira Blazer, MD, a rheumatologist at New York Universityâs Langone Medical Center in New York City. Environmental triggers can aggravate the immune system and cause these proteins to end up in the joint space, which can lead to inflammation and damage. Also, during a flare, antigens make their way into the joints, and when immune cells in the joints become activated, the linings of the joints become inflamed. The result: Red, hot, tender, swollen joints signs of a flare.
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