Arthritis Flare-Ups: What Causes Them and Exactly What to Do When You Have One
Although arthritic flare-ups can occur at any time and can be physically and emotionally debilitating, there are techniques that can help shorten the duration of flare-ups. Being able to recognize when a flare is beginning and avoiding triggers can help reduce flare-up duration.
Patients with osteoarthritis experience joint pain and stiffness, which is usually brought on by weather changes such as pressure changes or cold, while those with rheumatoid arthritis experience joint pain and stiffness, as well as swelling.
Fatigue can be caused by pain that interferes with sleep during a flare in inflammatory arthritis, but not usually in osteoarthritis, according to an expert. Fatigue can also be caused by pain that interferes with sleep during the night, according to Dr. Dalit Ashany.
Too much activity
Dr. Ashany says that osteoarthritis flares up after overexertion of the affected joint or joints. “Unexpected activity can stress out the joints and cause pain,” Dr. Bose says, adding that too much activity can also trigger an inflammatory arthritis flare.
In dry, hot climates, the effects of weather on your arthritis may be less pronounced. Arthritic patients of all types often report that their joints become achier or flare up in cold or humid weather.
According to Dr. Ashany, a decrease in medication or patient non-compliance can cause flare-ups in patients with arthritis, and inflammatory arthritis medications such as corticosteroids and biologics can also make patients more susceptible to infection.
To reduce stress and activate your skin’s natural defense system, try the following self-care tips:
Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like red meat and refined carbohydrates, as well as gluten, which can trigger flares in some patients. Arthritis patient Anita Marie Poupa told us on Facebook that she avoids sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis Flares
If you’re having a flare, your rheumatologist or primary care doctor may order imaging and blood tests to see what’s going on, as well as medications to help control the flare.
Dr. Ashany says the physical examination is crucial for determining flares, and that patients with inflammatory arthritis should let her know if their current symptoms are similar to previous flares. “Having more than you did at a previous visit suggests a flare,” she says.
Laboratory markers are not usually altered in osteoarthritis, according to Dr. Bose. Learn more about the ESR, or sedimentation rate, blood test.
Common medications to treat arthritis flares
Patients with OA may only require over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen, as well as topical gels and lotions like diclofenac gel or 2 Old Goats, according to Dr. Bose. RA flares may require joint injections of steroids.
Prepare ahead of time
Keep track of when your flares occur so you can learn to recognize triggers. OA patients “need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds,” according to Dr. Bose. If you think your diet is to blame, keep track of what you eat.
Get your rest
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis say that curling up with a good book or watching TV is their go-to flare-fighting strategy. Here are some motivational books to help you cope with chronic illness and stay positive.
Arthrogryposha Jacobs recommends stress reduction and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. Arthritis patient Karen Nash says, “I like to just shut myself away from the world as I need all my energy getting through it.”
Try heat and cold
People who need heat therapy use a variety of temperature treatments, including ice, warm baths or showers, heating pads, paraffin wax for feet and hands, heated blankets, and hot tubs, according to Jacobs.
Ask for help
“Speak up and communicate with family, friends, and doctors,” arthritis patient Michelle Grabarek wrote on Facebook. “A lot of times we want to be these warriors and won’t reach out for people to help us,” Jacobs says, adding that others may not understand what you’re going through and want to help.
How long does a rheumatoid arthritis flare up last?
How long do RA flares last? RA flares can last anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks, so it’s a good idea to see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after seven days.
What triggers rheumatoid arthritis flare ups?
Overexertion, poor sleep, stress, or an infection such as the flu can all trigger RA symptoms. With a predictable flare, you’ll temporarily feel worse, but your symptoms will resolve over time. Unpredictable flares, on the other hand, come with more uncertainty.
What does rheumatoid arthritis pain feel like?
For example, you may experience pain in both your left and right wrists, hands, and knees if you have RA. Joint pain can range from mild to moderate to severe, and it can feel like a sprain or broken bone at times. Some parts of your body may even be painful to the touch if you have RA.
What are the worst symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
Tender, warm, swollen joints are common signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, as are joint stiffness, which is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity.
What are the 4 stages of rheumatoid arthritis?
The Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression Stages
- Stage 1: Early RA.
- Stage 2: Antibodies Develop and Swelling Increases.
- Stage 3: Symptoms Appear.
- Stage 4: Joints Fuse.
- How to Tell If Your RA Is Progressing.
- What Causes RA to Get Worse?
- How Your RA Treatment Plan Prevents Disease Progression.
What are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis?
Foods to stay away from
- Trans fats should be avoided because they can cause or worsen inflammation and are bad for your cardiovascular health.
- Gluten. Avoiding gluten is more than just a health trend.
- Refined Carbs and White Sugar.
- Processed and Fried Foods.
- Garlic and Onions.
- Citrus Fruit.
What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory?
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fatty fish such as cod, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. Share on Pinterest Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight vascular inflammation.
How do I know if I have rheumatoid arthritis in my feet?
RA and the feet pain or stiffness in the toe joints or throughout the foot’s joints and ligaments. persistent aching or soreness in the feet, especially after long periods of walking, running, or standing. abnormal warmth in one or more areas of the foot, even if the rest of the body is relatively cool.
Is banana bad for rheumatoid arthritis?
Although bananas are not a common food for people with arthritis, their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help to protect the body from oxidative stress.
What is the best painkiller for rheumatoid arthritis?
Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers ( NSAIDs ) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, help relieve joint swelling, stiffness, and pain, and are among the most commonly prescribed painkillers for people with any type of arthritis. You may recognize them as ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin, or Advil.
How do you know if you have rheumatoid arthritis in your hands?
Tenderness in the hands and feet is a common early sign of RA. The joints in the middle and at the base of the fingers may feel tender when pressed or during movement in the hands, and the joints at the base of the toes may be tender in the feet.
What foods are bad for rheumatoid arthritis?
Foods to Avoid If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Meats that have been grilled, broiled, or fried (as well as other fried foods).
- Fatty foods high in omega-6 fatty acids.
- Sugars and refined carbohydrates.
- Preservatives and flavor enhancers.
What happens if rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated?
If left untreated, RA can lead to a variety of short-term complications, including joint pain; however, because RA affects the entire body, you may also experience general malaise, fever, and fatigue, as well as an increased risk of infection, according to Pisetsky.
What happens when RA attacks the lungs?
Rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease, or RA-ILD, occurs when lung tissue becomes inflamed and scarred, resulting in breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.
How do I know if my RA is progressing?
Signs That Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Getting Worse
- Rheumatoid nodules — bumps under your skin, often around your elbows.
- Active inflammation that shows up in joint fluid or blood tests.
- Diagnosis at a young age, which means the disease has more time to become active in your body.