Rheumatoid arthritis flares are periods of increased inflammation, pain, fatigue, and stiffness. They can come on suddenly without warning and may be triggered by overexertion, changes in weather, stress or anxiety, changes in diet or medication, or for no apparent reason. What are some things you can do to manage a flare-up?
While it may be tempting to push through the pain and fatigue of a flare, it may actually lengthen the period of the flare. If you allow your body and joints to rest, you may be back on your feet in your normal routine much faster. It may seem like an obvious one, but it is incredibly important to listen to your body and make sure it gets what it needs.
Heat or Cold Packs
Heat is a great way to provide relief and stimulate blood circulation to an affected joint. It can be very soothing and reduce pain. For inflammation around a joint, applying a cold pack for twenty minutes at a time every hour or so can help reduce that inflammation and provide pain relief.
While this one may seem obvious, it can really help your ability to get through an arthritis flare. If you take a pain medication as part of your daily arthritis regimen, a boost in a dosage that does not exceed the directions for the medication can also be a great help. Talking to your doctor about boosting a dosage during a flare is the best way to figure out if this is something you can do when the need arises.
Have Pre-Prepared or Quick Meals Ready
When suffering through a flare, the last thing on your mind will be cooking. Having easy-to-prepare meals on hand or meals that you’ve prepared in case of a flare-up can increase your time resting your joints, and decrease your time stressing over making meals and grocery shopping. Especially during a flare, when you’re more likely to feel down, having delicious comfort food on hand can really help. It is still important to eat healthily, but treating yourself can lift your spirits!
Immobilize the Affected Joint(s)
Wearing a brace or sleeve over the affected joints can provide much-needed warmth, compression, and stabilization. A brace can take some of the weight off of the joint and make it easier to move comfortably.
When an arthritis flare hits, make sure you have a plan in place with your doctor. If you have an idea from your doctor about how to best deal with these painful episodes, you can manage them much more effectively. There are many things to consider when you are living with rheumatoid arthritis, and it is important to give yourself a break, relax, and take care of yourself when the pain and fatigue hit you harder than normal.