Arthritis is the term used to describe a variety of conditions that affect different joints in the body. There are many different types of arthritic conditions, but many produce similar symptoms and flare-ups at times. Below is an overview of arthritic conditions and what causes flare-ups to occur.
Arthritis: What Is a Flare-up?
Since most people with arthritic conditions experience chronic pain, it can often be difficult to tell the difference between regular pain and flare-ups. Doctors describe flare-ups as periods of intense pain and inflammation that lasts from a few days to a few weeks.
It is important to recognize a flare-up while in its early stages in order to avoid joint damage that is associated with some types of arthritic conditions. Some of the most common symptoms associated with arthritis flare-ups include:
Morning Stiffness Lasting Longer Than 15 Minutes
- Joint Swelling
- Sudden Increase in Joint Pain Without a Known Cause
- Sudden Onset of Nighttime Joint Pain
Causes of Flare-ups
While it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of arthritic flare-ups, there are some events that make it more likely. Some of the most common cause of flare-ups include:
Doctors have found a link between eating certain foods and arthritic flare-ups. This is especially true for people with rheumatoid arthritis. The best way to identify problem foods is by keeping a list of foods that seem to cause an increase in your pain and then avoid eating them.
Fatigue is a common trigger for arthritic flare-ups. Overexertion can bring down your pain threshold and make symptoms more noticeable and severe.
Studies have shown that stressful situations can induce flare-ups of arthritic conditions. Doctors recommend people who find stress a trigger for their condition to practice stress relieving activities such as meditation or yoga. It may also be helpful to take medication to reduce anxiety levels if stress causes frequent and intense flares.
How to Manage Flare-ups
If you have periods of intense pain associated with your arthritic condition, there are some things that may help you manage it. A few options that may help you reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritic flares include:
- Apply Hot Packs
- Use Cold Packs
- Practice Meditation or Other Stress Relieving Activities
- Balance Activity with Rest Time
Speak with your doctor if you are having trouble controlling arthritic flare-ups. He or she may be able to adjust certain medication to reduce your pain and stiffness. It may also help to speak with friends and family, so they know how difficult flare-ups can be. Most people are more than willing to help with chores or activities if we will just ask for their help. Learning what works best for you when managing your arthritic flares is key to coping with your condition.