- Top Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
- Managing Flares
- Tips for Managing an Arthritis Flare Up During the Holiday Season
- What Is an Arthritis Flare Up?
- Arthritis Flare Up Foods
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up Triggers
- How to Manage Arthritis Flare Up Pain
- REFERENCES FOR TIPS FOR MANAGING AN ARTHRITIS FLARE UP DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
- 15 Survival Tips for Managing an RA Flare-Up
- For inflamed, achy joints
- For fatigue
- For stress or anxiety
- Learn more:
- Arthritis Flare-Ups: What Causes Them and Exactly What to Do When You Have One
- Symptoms of an Arthritis Flare
- Causes of Arthritis Flares
- Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis Flares
- Tips on Coping with Arthritis Flares
- Keep Reading
Top Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
A sudden surge in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) inflammation, called a flare, may cause an increase in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms like joint pain, joint swelling, and fatigue. Although there are some known triggers that can cause a RA flare, these triggers are different for different people, and they’re not always predictable.
“When you have rheumatoid arthritis and your normal state of health changes for the worse over the course of about three days, this is considered a rheumatoid arthritis flare,” explains Bernard Rubin, DO, MPH, chief of rheumatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “In addition, the cause of a flare may not be clear. It could be one thing that happened a few days ago or a number of things that have accumulated over time,” Dr. Rubin says.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
Although the exact cause of an RA flare can be due to a variety of culprits, here are some common factors to be aware of:
- Stress. People with RA frequently notice periods of high stress just before a flare. A 2010 review of 16 studies on stress and RA, published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, concluded that although stress is difficult to study, there is enough evidence to support the belief that stress is often a flare trigger.
- Infection. “RA medications suppress the immune system, which means a higher risk for infections. Even the common cold or the flu may be a trigger for a flare of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms,” Rubin says. A 2012 study done at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism followed 584 patients with RA for about 10 years. Nearly half the participants had more than one infection that was serious enough to require hospitalization or intravenous antibiotics.
- Foods. “Many people with rheumatoid arthritis and their doctors agree that certain foods may trigger a flare of symptoms. But exact culprits are difficult to pinpoint because the problem foods are different for everybody,” Rubin says. “That makes it impossible to do a good study on food triggers of an RA flare. For some people it could be an allergy, for others, it could be a chemical sensitivity.” The best approach is to keep track of which foods cause your symptoms and avoid them, he says.
- Fatigue. “Overexertion can trigger rheumatoid arthritis inflammation, increase fatigue, and trigger a rheumatoid arthritis flare. New medications may be the best for reducing symptoms of fatigue,” Rubin says. At the 2012 meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, some of the latest research on fatigue was presented. It showed that fatigue is caused by both physical and psychological factors. Chemicals called cytokines have been shown to promote inflammation and also cause fatigue in people with RA. New drugs, called biologics, may prevent the release of cytokines and protect against fatigue.
- Pregnancy. “Being pregnant turns off the immune system and usually causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms to go into remission. But the months just after giving birth are frequently a trigger for an RA flare,” Rubin says. A 2011 review of studies on pregnancy and RA, published in the journal Rheumatology, found that about 75 percent of women with RA go into remission during pregnancy, and up to 90 percent experience a flare during the first year after childbirth.
Tips for Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
Avoiding your known triggers, managing stress, and getting enough rest are the best ways to avoid flares, but following these steps doesn’t mean you’ll never have another flare. “Many people with RA get good at predicting a flare, even if they can’t prevent it. The goal of RA treatment is to build a plan that avoids major flares,” Rubin says. Here are factors to discuss with your doctor and include in your flare treatment plan:
- Be aware of early symptoms of a flare. That way, you can let your doctor know and activate your flare management plan. Keep a journal of all of your flare triggers and symptoms. “Avoiding triggers and getting extra rest may be enough to manage a minor flare,” Rubin says.
- Once a flare starts, balance your rest and activity. You will need more rest, but you also need some activity. Complete rest may actually worsen an RA flare. Some gentle range-of-motion exercise can help prevent joint pain and stiffness.
- Have a flare support plan in place. This could include friends and family members that can chip in at home. You may also need a plan at work to reduce your hours or do some work from home. For a minor flare, you may need to add a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs are over-the-counter medications to help relieve pain and reduce rheumatoid arthritis inflammation. Applying hot or cold packs may be effective at reducing joint pain and swelling as well. “For a more serious flare, you may need to add a stronger medication such as a course of prescription steroids by pill or a steroid injection for a painful joint,” Rubin says.
- Reduce stress as a factor in RA flares. Learn some relaxation and stress-reduction techniques. These may include deep breathing, guided imagery for relaxation, meditation, or mind-body exercises like tai chi and yoga.
An important final tip for flares is to learn as much as you can about your condition and have a good working relationship with your doctor and other caregivers. “People who learn a lot about RA and their own body eventually will know the difference between a bump in the road and a road block. I tell people with RA that I may not be able to protect them from a flare, but I can help them prepare,” Rubin says.
Think can, not can’t
Some people find ‘positive thinking’ helps them to cope better. But it’s an individual thing and may not suit everyone.
If you want to give it a go, try focusing on the things you can do, rather than those you can’t. Try not to avoid doing things because of your pain so that it doesn’t dominate your life.
Sometime small changes to your way of thinking can help. For example, instead of lying awake in bed thinking, ‘I’ll never get to sleep’, you could try telling yourself: ‘At least I’m resting my body’.
Diversion and distraction
Divert yourself from your pain with an activity that interests you. Use distraction to get through tasks. It can reduce the pain you feel. For example, if going upstairs causes you difficulty, try naming a different country with each step.
There is no evidence that alternative or complementary therapies have any effect on the disease process in RA, but some people find them helpful. However, remember that ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘harmless’: some alternative remedies have side effects and can interact in harmful ways with medication.
It is not advisable to take complementary therapies instead of the treatments prescribed to you by your healthcare team.
If you are considering any complementary or alternative therapy, discuss it with your rheumatology team first to make sure that it can be taken alongside your normal medication.
“Take up something new – like pilates or yoga”
If you have any type of arthritis, you’ve probably lived through a flare. A flare is a period of increased disease activity or worsening symptoms – a time when the medications you normally rely on to control your disease don’t seem to work. Many patients would also add that flares affect many other aspects of their life as well.
But why does this happen? According to Joseph Shanahan, MD, a rheumatologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and assistant consulting professor in the division of rheumatology, allergy, and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, “The first thing I ask when a patient presents with a flare is whether they have been taking their medication as prescribed..”
The causes of flares vary by disease – so let’s look at the triggers of each.
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a flare can be related to natural variations in the processes that cause inflammation. This means flares can vary in intensity, duration and frequency, but they’re usually reversible – if treated promptly.
For most people, the flare risk increases when treatments are tapered or stopped. Other triggers include overexertion, stress, infection or poor sleep. “Disease-modifying arthritis therapies are NOT cures; they maintain patients (hopefully) in states of low-disease activity or occasionally even remission. But when they are stopped, the disease is likely to come roaring back,” notes Dr. Shanahan.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials (OMERACT) RA Flare Group, the danger of untreated RA flares is they can place you at greater risk of joint damage, poorer long-term outcomes, and contribute to worsening cardiovascular disease. So it’s important to listen to your body and be able to identify a flare when it starts and begin early interventions – such as medication changes (with your doctor) and self-management strategies.
Since osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disorder and gets worse over time, it may be hard to tell a flare from disease progression You might have increased joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory disease that affects the skin and joints. Nearly 30% of people with the skin disease, psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. Most people with PsA say a psoriasis flare will often precede a flare of arthritis symptoms.
Common triggers for psoriasis flares include:
Injury to your skin
Bacterial infections, specifically strep throat
Other possible triggers: allergies, diet, alcohol intake, smoking and weather changes
Flares and their triggers in psoriatic arthritis have not been studied as much. Researchers in Leeds, United Kingdom interviewed 18 patients to understand their experiences of flare. According to the 2015 article in Rheumatology (Oxford), their flares were more than an increase in swollen joints, psoriasis plaques or fatigue. They found psychological aspects of their disease — such as social withdrawal, emotional distress, frustration and depression — equally debilitating. Their flare triggers were similar to those for psoriasis and include stress, strenuous physical activity, a change in medication and the weather.
Uncontrolled uric acid levels trigger crystals to form in and around the joints, causing inflammation and pain in people with gout. Medications can control uric acid levels and over time reduce or eliminate flares.
When you first start taking urate-lowering medications — such as allopurinol, fuboxistat, and pegloticase – you may have an increase in flares because of the sudden changes in uric acid levels in your blood. “A common sign that long-term gout therapies are actually working is a ‘worsening’ of disease! That’s why we use colchicine and other anti-inflammatory medications to manage flares when we initiate uric acid-lowering therapy,” says Dr. Shanahan.
Consuming high-purine foods like shellfish or beer, becoming dehydrated, experiencing sudden changes in kidney function, or local trauma to a joint (like stubbing your big toe) can also trigger flares. Taking urate-lowering medicines should lessen the likelihood of having a flare due to these triggers.
Flare Awareness Develops with Experience
Regardless of how a flare is defined or triggered in RA, OA, gout, or PsA, experts agree that being aware of how your body feels and how to manage a flare is the best method for limiting the damage it can cause. Understanding your own personal flare triggers comes with experience and can certainly help with flare management.
Dr. Shanahan has another piece of advice, “It does help for patients to track their flares, such as in a diary or journal. Not all flares require medical attention, but recurrent mild flares may indicate a suboptimal control of their disease.” If you don’t already have a flare plan with your doctor, call them on first signs of a flare so you can adjust your treatment and gain control of your disease.
Learn more about pain and ways to manage it in our Pain Toolkit.
Tips for Managing an Arthritis Flare Up During the Holiday Season
The holiday season is just around the corner, which often means an increase in activities, travel, and stress. This is a wonderful time of year to spend with loved ones, but unfortunately, unexpected side effects often occur among arthritis sufferers.
Arthritis pain at this time may become so severe that individuals don’t even feel like participating in all the fun and festive activities. Fortunately, there are certain arthritis flare up triggers that can be avoided and measures that can be taken to manage the pain during this time of the year.
Here is some information about why an arthritis flare up occurs, arthritis flare up foods, and tips for managing flare ups during the holiday season.
What Is an Arthritis Flare Up?
Arthritis pain often comes and goes over time, and an arthritis flare up is an episode of severe pain.1 Flares can last just a few days and be treated easily, last longer than a week and require reduced activity, or last several weeks and require more serious treatment options. Flare ups can be mild, moderate, or severe and are triggered by many of the things people experience during the holiday season.
Arthritis Flare Up Foods
Food is a big part of celebrating holidays, but certain foods can actually make arthritis symptoms worse. In particular, foods that can cause inflammation also tend to cause flare ups and should be avoided.2,3 The list of arthritis flare up foods includes sugar, fatty meats, dairy, and gluten. It is also a good idea to limit one’s intake of coffee, soda, alcohol, salt, and processed foods as much as possible to prevent flare ups.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up Triggers
In addition to certain foods, there are other triggers that can bring on rheumatoid arthritis pain around the holidays. The cold weather that many people experience during the holiday season is a trigger for RA.4,5 Other rheumatoid arthritis flare up triggers are stress from cooking and shopping obligations, fatigue from not getting enough sleep, and illnesses caused by common winter sicknesses.6 Increased travel around the holidays, whether by car or plane, can also lead to increased stiffness of the joints.
How to Manage Arthritis Flare Up Pain
The best way to prevent an arthritis flare up is to avoid the aforementioned triggers, but of course, this is not always possible. It is important for everyone to reduce stress levels during the holidays, but especially for arthritis sufferers whose symptoms are made worse by stress. Self-care techniques, such as getting a massage or taking a warm bath, can go a long way in preventing stress-related flare ups.7,8
JointFlex may be used topically to relieve joint pain quickly and without a prescription. Make sure to bring a tube along to holiday events in case an arthritis flare up begins unexpectedly. People with arthritis must remember to take their medications during the busy holiday season and not forget doses due to schedule changes. Cool packs can be used to reduce inflammation of the joints, while warm packs can soothe persistent joint pain at family gatherings.9 Other ways to manage flare up pain at holiday events is to take stretching breaks between long periods of sitting, use a brace or cane during walking activities, and take time to rest when needed.6
REFERENCES FOR TIPS FOR MANAGING AN ARTHRITIS FLARE UP DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
JOINTFLEX® PAIN RELIEF CREAM
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15 Survival Tips for Managing an RA Flare-Up
Unfortunately, even the most well controlled case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause occasional flare-ups, in which pain and inflammation strike without warning and disrupt your life.
See Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis causes symptoms throughout your body, which is especially true during a flare-up. Watch: Rheumatoid Arthritis Overview Video
When a flare-up hits and you’re in a lot of pain or feeling completely drained, it can seem trite to hear about self-care “tips.” But these coping tactics may help you deal with a flare-up in a way you haven’t considered before.
See Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Treatment
Through trial and error, you can find the self-care steps that work best for you. They may even vary from flare to flare, depending on which symptoms the flare-up is causing.
For inflamed, achy joints
- Take over-the-counter medication to manage pain and inflammation, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil). Talk with your doctor about short-term use of prednisone to help during flares too.
- Use heat therapy. You can use dry heat, like a heating pad or heat patch, or wet heat like a warm bath. (See: 9 Easy Ways to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint)
- Try cold therapy as well to decrease inflammation.
- Wrap the affected joint for added support and immobility.
- Do gentle stretches to keep stiff joints moving. As the flare eases, you can increase your range of motion as it’s comfortable.
See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief
See 3 Types of Cold Packs for Arthritis)
- Get some rest—but not too much. It can be helpful to take it easy when a flare hits, but too much rest can be problematic too. Balance rest with light activity and stretching.
- Talk with your employer about having flexible hours or the ability to work from home when a flare is at its worst. It’s a good idea to make this arrangement ahead of time, when you can explain the effects of a flare and assure your employer of your commitment to still get work done, as you’re able.
- Delegate household tasks or errands to family and friends. Be specific; tell them exactly how they can assist you.
- Minimize effort. Use a rolling cart or a TV tray to keep frequently-needed items like the remote and tissues handy. Sit down to brush your teeth or do your hair. Wear clothing that’s comfortable and easy to get on and off.
See Coping with RA Fatigue by Prioritizing and Simplifying Tasks
- Have frozen meals on hand that can easily be prepared for you or your family. Or order out.
When you’re exhausted and in pain, make every ounce of energy count by simplifying and prioritizing actions. Learn more: Coping with RA Fatigue by Prioritizing and Simplifying Tasks
For stress or anxiety
- When you feel a flare-up coming on, try to resist negative thoughts about the flare-up itself or what others think about it. Remind yourself that RA has its ups and downs and flare-ups sometimes happen.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Unplug for the day. Nap, watch Netflix, or read.
- Put off big decisions about family, work, or finances until you feel more capable and less stressed.
- Put on some soothing music and take a warm bath. This can help relieve stress and ease joint pain too.
See Coping with RA Fatigue Using Therapy and Emotional Support
If the symptoms of your flare-up are unusual or severe—or they’re not responding to your self-care treatments—make an appointment to see your rheumatologist. Your overall treatment plan may need adjusting.
You can also help prevent and anticipate flare-ups by tracking your health and RA symptoms. This will help you see patterns in when your flare-ups occur. Use a notebook or smartphone app to help you track your symptoms.
See 3 Free Apps for Tracking Life with Arthritis
How Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Causes Fatigue
11 Ways to Relieve Pain Naturally
Arthritis Flare-Ups: What Causes Them and Exactly What to Do When You Have One
You’re feeling good, barely thinking about your chronic pain, and then wham — an arthritis flare hits you like a Mack truck. These periods of increased disease activity take a toll on you physically and emotionally, especially because they can come on unexpectedly. If you’ve got either osteoarthritis or an inflammatory type of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, you probably know what we’re talking about.
So how can you deal with an arthritis flare-up when it happens? “I remind myself, ‘This, too, shall pass,’” arthritis patient Beth Bloomfield told us on Facebook. “Like a kidney stone!” another patient, Katie Resnick, joked back. Although arthritis flares are never pleasant, there are techniques that can help shorten their duration. Also important: Being able recognize when a flare is starting and avoid the triggers that may cause your flare-ups in the first place.
Symptoms of an Arthritis Flare
Osteoarthritis patients experience “joint pain, stiffness mostly associated with weather changes such as pressure change or cold, but usually no joint swelling,” says rheumatologist Nilanjana Bose, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and a member of the American College of Rheumatology. Rheumatoid arthritis patients also experience joint pain and stiffness, as well as swelling.
“Fatigue can occur in the setting of flare in inflammatory arthritis, but not usually in osteoarthritis unless pain during the night is interfering with sleep,” says Dalit Ashany, MD, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery.
In RA, “joint swelling is also associated with systemic symptoms like low-grade fevers,” Dr. Bose says. “The inflammatory cascade gets activated, including cytokines, which leads to joint pain, swelling, and occasional systemic symptoms in severe flares.”
Causes of Arthritis Flares
Too much activity
You’re feeling good, so you overdo it, and then you end up with an arthritis flare. “Osteoarthritis often flares after overexertion of the joint or joints that are involved,” Dr. Ashany says. With OA, “unexpected activity can stress out the joints and surrounding tissues and cause pain,” Dr. Bose says. Too much activity can also lead to a flare in inflammatory arthritis patients, she notes.
“Pressure changes and humidity may play a role in exacerbating joint pain,” Dr. Bose says. If you live in a dry, hot climate, you may be less prone to the impacts of weather on your arthritis. “Patients with all types of arthritis, OA or inflammatory, often state that their joints are achier or even flare in cold or humid weather, although there is not a body of scientific data about this,” Dr. Ashany says.
Infections, such as respiratory viruses, can lead to flares as they affect the immune system. Medications for inflammatory arthritis, such as corticosteroids and biologics, can also make patients more vulnerable to infection; yet a “decrease in medication, either because of a deliberate reduction or patient non-compliance, can lead to flare,” Dr. Ashany says.
Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, “stress can also induce flares,” Dr. Bose says. It’s possible that stress may lead to the production of more pro-inflammatory cytokines. Try these self-care tips to minimize stress and flares.
“There is no proof that a specific food causes arthritis flares, however if an individual clearly sees a relationship between a certain food and flare, then that may be relevant for that particular individual,” says Dr. Ashany. Dr. Bose advises, “I always recommend patients to avoid red meat and refined carbohydrates, which can be pro-inflammatory. Gluten can cause flares for certain patients.” Arthritis patient Anita Marie Poupa told us on Facebook that she avoids sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Try these tips to cut out excess sugar.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis Flares
If you think you’re going through a flare that hasn’t improved after a couple of days, call your rheumatologist or primary care doctor. They will want to monitor how you feel and may want to order imaging and blood tests to see what’s going on. They can also prescribe medications to get the flare under control.
“The physical examination is important for determining flares,” Dr. Ashany says. “The physician will examine the patient for number of tender and swollen joints. Having more than you did at a prior visit suggests a flare.” In inflammatory arthritis, she says it’s also important that patients let her know if their current symptoms are typical of their previous flares.
In inflammatory arthritis, “some patients will have an elevation of inflammatory markers, such as ESR and/or CRP, during a flare,” Dr. Ashany says. “Other labs that can be altered during a flare are platelets which can become elevated or the blood count which can show anemia.” In osteoarthritis, laboratory markers are not usually altered, Dr. Bose says. Read more about the ESR, or sedimentation rate, blood test.
Common medications to treat arthritis flares
OA patients might just need some OTC pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Dr. Bose also recommends topical gels and lotions like diclofenac gel or 2 Old Goats. If that doesn’t work, Dr. Ashany says joint injections of steroids may be given. RA flares are more complicated. “In inflammatory arthritis, steroids are often used to try to quickly bring a flare under control,” Dr. Ashany says. If only one joint is involved a steroid (such as depomedrol) can be given by injection, but otherwise it can be taken orally (such as prednisone).
In inflammatory arthritis, “if flares continue to occur, this indicates that the patient’s regimen of maintenance medication is not adequate,” Dr. Ashany says. “This may lead to addition of a medication, switching one drug for another or increasing the dose of medication that the patient is currently taking.”
Tips on Coping with Arthritis Flares
Prepare ahead of time
Keep track of when your flares happen so you can learn to identify triggers. If you think, for example, that weather affects your flares, OA patients “need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds,” Dr. Bose says. In addition, RA patients should stay compliant with their medication regimen. If you suspect your diet could be a culprit, monitor what foods you’re eating, says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who works with arthritis patients and a clinical professor at Boston University.
Have a plan for when flares inevitably occur. Jacobs says to arrange ahead of time with your employer to work from home or make other adjustments if needed. “An inflammatory arthritis patient will often, in time, have a sense of whether they are starting to flare,” Dr. Ashany says.
Get your rest
If you feel like you just can’t get anything done, don’t. “Rest is critical,” Jacobs says. “It might be at this point you put on your arthritis gloves and take a nap.” All the patients we talked to agreed that rest is their go-to flare fighter. “Resting, curling up with a good book or finding some comedies to watch on TV,” Brenda Kleinsasser said of her routine. Here are inspiring books that can help you cope with chronic illness.
Stress can cause arthritis flares — and arthritis flares can cause stress. Learn to recognize what you can handle emotionally. “I like to just shut myself away from the world as I need all my energy getting through it,” arthritis patient Karen Nash said on Facebook. “If there is anyone around, I feel I need to pretend I am better than I am and hold a conversation, which is just too much.”
Jacobs advises stress reduction and relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. “App stores have lots of great meditation apps,” she says. Try Headspace, The Mindfulness App or Calm to see which one works for you. Aromatherapy may also help.
Try heat and cold
“You might use hot or cold packs,” Jacobs says. The patients we talked to on Facebook use different kinds of temperature treatments, including ice, warm baths or showers, heating pads, paraffin wax for feet and hands, heated blankets, and hot tubs. Here are different ways to try heat therapy and different ways to try cold therapy.
Mental techniques come in here as well: If you focus on the pain, it’s just going to hurt more. “Rest followed by light routine so as not dwell on the pain,” arthritis patient Amanda Edwards said on FB. “Knowing what is mine to handle.” Alex Woodward also told us: “Distraction: pain meds, PJ’s, chocolate, and laptop to either research an interesting or weird subject, or plan a road trip.”
Jacobs says that very gentle hand exercises could help reduce inflammation. If you can handle it, some light movement may make you feel better mentally and physically. Check with your doctor to see if low-impact tai chi or yoga are right for you.
Ask for help
“A lot of times we want to be these warriors and won’t reach out for people to help us, but think about what else people can do,” Jacobs says. Others might not know what you’re going through, and want to pitch in. “Speak up and communicate with family, friends, and doctors,” arthritis patient Michelle Grabarek told us on Facebook.
Call your doctor
Speaking of doctors, you may or may not need to reach out. If your symptoms are mild and go away quickly, you probably don’t need to. But, “there is no way to predict if a mild flare is going to turn into a severe flare,” says Dr. Ashany, who notes that a swollen, warm, and red joint should always lead to an immediate phone call, “as patients can also potentially develop an infected joint, which needs to be treated immediately.” If you have any questions, play it safe and call your doctor. “If a flare occurs, please contact your doctor so you can start treatment promptly if needed,” Dr. Bose says.
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