No matter which type of arthritis you have, there is a good chance you have dealt with a flare at some point in your life. A flare occurs when arthritis pain increases, or you notice a sudden worsening of your symptoms. During a flare, the medications you usually take to control arthritis symptoms might not work or may not seem as effective as usual.
Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer when you’re experiencing an arthritis flare. These simple strategies can help you develop a plan to manage your flares with the help of your health care provider.
1. Watch for Early Warning Signs
Knowing the early warning signs of a flare helps you recognize and treat the symptoms before they become difficult to manage. While symptoms of a flare can vary, many people notice increased stiffness in joints, painful joints or pain throughout the body, swelling of the affected joint, major fatigue and trouble completing everyday tasks. Before a flare, your body may also feel inflamed or sore in general.
2. Know When to Rest
If you have arthritis, you probably know that being active and moving can help reduce pain and other symptoms. However, if you are dealing with an arthritis flare, one of the best things you can do to feel better is to rest and let your body repair and recharge until you are feeling better. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, the best course of action is to strike a balance between activity and getting enough rest during a flare.
3. Use Heat and Cold Therapy
If you’re in pain, consider using heat and cold therapy during a flare. Cold packs help to numb any painful areas and reduce inflammation and swelling. Some people prefer moist heat for arthritis pain, while others like to use cold therapy during a flare. Many physicians recommend that you alternate between using moist heat and ice for arthritis pain. Talk to your doctor to find which is best for you.
4. Ask for Help When You Need It
If you have arthritis that impacts your busy lifestyle, remember that it’s okay to ask for help if and when you need it. This might mean asking a family member to do your grocery shopping or having a friend or relative help you with house cleaning and daily chores like cooking. If you rest and take some time to heal, you will feel refreshed and better able to cope. Make a list of tasks you need help with, and don’t hesitate to reach out when you need support.
5. Care for Your Emotional Health
Pain can be draining and downright exhausting. If you are dealing with arthritis flares, be sure to take care of your emotional health, too. Schedule some time to relax and care for your basic needs. Spend some time with friends, family members, and schedule a self-care day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re in pain, so it’s important to mind your emotional health – especially during flares.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Studies show that poor sleep can worsen pain and tends to increase inflammation. If you suffer from arthritis, inflammation is a condition that you want to avoid. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, if possible. If you have problems with insomnia, talk to your doctor so that you can get back on track with good sleeping habits.
7. Have a Flare Plan
Talk to your doctor at your next office visit so you can formulate a plan to help you manage your arthritis flares. Whether your treatment plan involves taking pain relief medication or other measures to ease the pain, having a plan can help you manage symptoms before a flare worsens. Discuss a plan of action with your doctor to help you manage the flare. For example, one strategy might be changing your medication type or dosage during your flare.
Although it might seem difficult to avoid an arthritis flare, these basic strategies can help minimize their impact. If you work closely with your doctor, you will feel more prepared to manage flares and how they affect your symptoms and your daily routine.
If arthritis affects your ability to work or enjoy your busy lifestyle, it’s time to take action. Contact the experts at Flexogenix™ for a consultation. They can help you manage your arthritis and discuss the latest non-invasive, regenerative treatment options so you can enjoy your usual activities.