Sep 16, 2019

Seven Tips for Coping with Arthritis Flares

If you have arthritis, you are all too familiar with these feelings: stiff, swollen joints, overwhelming fatigue. This magnification of symptoms is called a flare, and they can happen to anyone with arthritis.

What triggers a flare is not clear, but by working with your doctor, you can manage the pain and fatigue and keep them to a minimum. Read on for seven of our best tips on keeping painful and often debilitating arthritis flares in check.

Watch for signs.

Pay attention to early warning signs, such as dull aches or extreme fatigue at strange times. A crucial part of managing flares is tackling them as early as possible. Recognizing these signs and quickly acting on them can help reduce flare symptoms.

Protect against infection.

Some arthritis medications can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Because of this, you’re also more likely to get an infection, which can trigger an arthritis flare. Ensure that you’re up to date on your vaccines, wash your hands frequently, and avoid close contact with those who are sick.

Reduce stress.

Stress is a major contributor to arthritis flares, so much so that even a small decrease in its triggers can have a big impact on your health. For maximum effect, add some stress management techniques into your everyday routine. Some of these include yoga and meditation, massages, or regular warm baths.

Get plenty of rest.

While physical activity is extremely important for arthritis sufferers, sometimes the best thing you can do when you are experiencing a flare is rest. Flares are painful and exhausting, so use this time to recharge your mind and your body. Finding a balance between activity and rest is key, but more so during a flare.

Hot and cold therapy.

Hot and cold therapies are very helpful when soothing a flare. Warm baths often bring immediate relief to sore joints. Heating pads, heat wraps, and paraffin waxes are also great approaches, just alternate warm and cold applications, especially if there is any swelling. Leave the affected joints in warm water for five minutes, then switch to cold water for five minutes. Ice massages and cooling topical creams are also a big help. For the optimal ice massage, you’ll need a large piece of ice. Apply the ice and gently massage in a circular motion. Focus on the affected part of the body, but limit the massage to five minutes at a time. Repeat two to four times a day.

Ask for help.

One of the best things you can do for yourself during a flare is often the hardest for most people. But your friends and family really care and want to help. Before a flare strikes, let your loved ones know what to expect and that you may be asking for assistance. Designate someone to help you and make sure he or she knows which responsibilities to take over so you can have a break.

Plan ahead with your doctor.

Flares can occur any time and out of nowhere, so it is important to have a plan. Your rheumatologist should be your partner during treatment. As a team, you need to come up with a plan that keeps your symptoms in check. But regular treatments may not be enough. Talk to your doctor about a backup medication plan should a flare prove too intense. If you don’t have a rheumatologist, find a quality doctor like those at Carolina Arthritis. We will work closely with you to figure out the best course action for you and your illness.

Although it’s difficult to predict when a flare will occur, these tips can help reduce its effects. If you have frequent flares or experience incredibly intense ones, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor and let him or her know what you have been going through. And if you need more ideas on managing your arthritis symptoms, call Carolina Arthritis today!