5 Ways to Manage an Arthritis Flare-Up

May 14, 2024
5 Ways to Manage an Arthritis Flare-Up
Living with arthritis is tough, especially when it flares up and you're stuck on the couch for a few days – but that doesn't have to be the case. Learn about helpful tips for arthritis flares that decrease pain and help you get moving.

Arthritis comes in many forms – rheumatoid, psoriatic, gout, and the most prevalent, osteoarthritis. All of these conditions lead to joint damage and pain and often require treatment to slow the progression of the disease.

Periods of remission and flare-ups are common with arthritis. You may go months without symptoms and then have a severe flare that disrupts your life. There are, however, ways to get ahead of your arthritis flares to reduce pain and restore joint function.

At Prudent Medical Providers, our team of three family medicine nurse practitioners provides arthritis evaluations and treatments to reduce discomfort and get you back to your favorite activities.

Signs of an arthritis flare-up

Arthritis is a term that describes many medical conditions that cause damage and inflammation in the joints. Various forms of arthritis affect the body, each damaging the joints in different ways.

An arthritis flare-up happens suddenly and usually causes worsening symptoms. You could have any of the following:

  • Joint swelling
  • Morning joint stiffness
  • Intense joint pain
  • Difficulty sleeping from pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Trouble moving the affected joints
  • Fever

Every type of arthritis has certain triggers that cause symptoms to worsen. While in periods of remission, you may go weeks, months, or years without severe symptoms — but when a flare-up strikes, it causes intense symptoms that may be difficult to control.

What causes an arthritis flare?

Various factors affect arthritis, and they're called triggers. These triggers cause arthritis to come out of remission and lead to flare-ups.

Living with arthritis means you must be careful about your activities and understand what worsens your symptoms. Keep an eye out for any of the following causes of an arthritis flare:

  • Joint injury
  • Weather changes
  • Stress
  • Too much activity
  • Infections and viruses
  • Certain foods

Any of the above can lead to a severe arthritis flare that can last days to weeks. Knowing what triggers your arthritis is crucial to controlling the condition and reducing discomfort.

Five tips to manage acute arthritis

Although managing an arthritis flare may seem impossible, we at Prudent Medical Providers have some tips that allow you to quickly reduce joint pain and return to your normal activities. The better prepared you are for a flare, the quicker you can start easing joint discomfort. 

Five of our most successful management techniques include:

1. Use ice and heat

One of the first things you can do when your arthritis flares up is to apply heat and ice to manage swelling and pain. Use ice packs to freeze away the pain and warm baths to relax the joints and improve blood flow.

2. Get some rest

During an arthritis flare, a little bit of rest is necessary to allow the joint to recover. Although you don't want to spend weeks on the couch, resting your mind and body is essential for recovery.

3. Gentle exercise

Gentle movement and exercise can help an arthritis flare. Light exercises like yoga or tai chi can reduce inflammation and improve movement and function in the joint. It's also an excellent mental health boost during a flare-up.

4. Relaxation techniques

Stress is one of the triggers of a flare-up, but more pain and discomfort also lead to stress. Relaxation techniques are essential during an arthritis flare to relax your mind and help you deal with the inflammation and pain. Meditation and soothing music can keep your mind off the flare.

5. Anti-inflammatory medications

Inflammation is one of the critical components of an arthritis flare-up, which is where anti-inflammatory medications help. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories helps reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint to improve motion and reduce pain, especially during a flare.

If these techniques aren't enough to ease your arthritis flare, we also offer joint injections for fast and efficient relief.

To get expert arthritis treatment today, call Prudent Medical Providers at one of our offices in Tacoma or Federal Way, Washington, or request a telehealth appointment here on the website.