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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Phillips

5 Steps to Managing Your RA Flares



Rheumatoid arthritis can be a difficult disease to control, and the flare ups that come with this autoimmune condition can be even more challenging to manage.


If you live with rheumatoid arthritis, you know all too well how these episodes of exacerbated symptoms always seem to show up at the worst time and can be extremely hard on your health.


Even though flares are only classified as a short-term escalation of symptoms, they sure can set you back, right?


What can you do to decrease the severity of your flare ups, reduce the amount of flares you experience, and lessen overall disease activity? This five-step approach helps patients manage their RA flares.


#1 - Be Aware


Oftentimes, flare ups start with a few tell-tale symptoms, and many patients can feel a flare up coming on.


Be aware of how your body feels, recognize what your joints are telling you, and be mindful of when your symptoms begin. Get to know your triggers. You might even find tracking your triggers in a journal to be helpful.


As you work to identify the common causes that bring on an RA flare, you can be better prepared to minimize the impact of a flare.


#2 - Find a Happy Medium


Managing a flare up can be tricky. For many patients, changing the course of a flare comes down to knowing your own needs.


During a flare, improving your condition requires utilizing individualized techniques that your body will respond to and benefit from. This is where finding a happy medium is a necessity.


For example, let’s say resting your body helps you during a flare, but on the other hand, you know your body also needs regular movement in order to prevent stiff, painful joints.


Treating a flare is all about finding a balance - a balance between maintaining the lifestyle that helps you typically control your RA and doing what is needed to overcome a flare.


#3 - Make Needed Changes


Your regular activities may not be practical or even possible during a flare, and that’s okay. Don’t get too down on yourself.


A flare up can be a difficult time period to tackle new behaviors, but once you get through the thick of it, then it is time to address the underlying reason why you experienced a flare.


Did you eat something that triggered additional inflammation? Would you benefit from following an anti-inflammatory diet?


What activities led up to the flare? Perhaps you missed a few days of exercise? Or maybe you did too much and overexerted yourself?


Review the days leading up to your flare and try to pinpoint what brought it on. Each flare up can be a learning moment that helps you identify how to alleviate future flares by making lifestyle changes.


#4 - Always Stick to Your Treatment Plan


Yes, it is true that you can do all of the above and still get flares. You will encounter situations out of your control, such as catching a common cold, that will throw your body into a flare. Unfortunately, that is one of the many frustrations that come with RA.


Put your focus on what you can achieve - you can continue to follow your treatment plan to give your body the best chance at fighting off increased disease activity and further inflammation that would lead to a flare.


Try to not miss doses of your prescribed medications. If taking vitamin supplements is a part of your treatment plan, stick to a strict regime. Do not fail to do what you already know can help your RA.


If you feel like your treatment plan is not what it should be, don’t be afraid to speak up. A treatment plan is not foolproof. Your body can and will change, which means your needs will change as well.


#5 - Seek Support and Help


Did you know that stress can contribute to a flare up? Poor sleep can cause a flare, too.


Supporting your mental and emotional health can go a long way in maintaining your physical wellbeing.


Be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms associated with poor mental health, and if you feel your mental health is slipping, consider reaching out to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist.


When you work toward improving your emotional wellbeing, you are taking steps to control your RA.


How Can Paducah Rheumatology Help?


Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we strive to do all we can to help you decrease the number of flares you experience by managing your overall disease activity.


Our team provides personalized care and creates individualized treatment plans for each one of our patients.


Let’s work together! Give us a call today at 270-408-6100, or send in a physician’s referral if you will be a new patient.


Flare ups are frustrating, and we want to support you through those difficult times that are a part of living with RA.


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