Manage rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups during the holiday season

By: Bel Marra Health | Arthritis | Monday, December 21, 2015 - 01:30 PM

Hand Deformed From Rheumatoid ArthritisIf you have rheumatoid arthritis the holiday season can be a difficult time. If you encounter a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up during the holidays it can be so painful you may not even wish to partake in any of the festivities simply because you’re in so much pain.

A rheumatoid arthritis flare-up is categorized by pain, inflammation, stiffness, fatigue, and impaired physical function which can limit your ability to perform basic, everyday tasks. If not properly managed rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups can really put a damper on your daily life along with your holiday season. This is why it is of utmost importance that you not only take effective measures to manage rheumatoid arthritis for the holidays but for everyday as well so that you are not limited by your condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis flares and categoriesRA2

A rheumatoid arthritis flare is an episode of intense pain which can be quite debilitating. Communicating a flare with your doctor can be challenging which can make choosing an effective mode of treatment difficult. By categorizing flares it can make it easier to for rheumatologists to quantify them thus choosing an appropriate course of treatment.

Previously there was no standard test to measure flares until Dr. Thasia Woodworth and her team created one. Rheumatoid arthritis flares are divided into four categories based on duration and impact. Flares may last less than a week and treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication or rest and ice. Moderate flares can last longer than a week’s time which requires restrictive activity. Severe flares may require time off work and restrict activity for a longer period than two weeks and corticosteroids or opiods may be required for the pain. Lastly, a “life-interrupting” flare must be treated with disease-management approaches prescribed and recommended by a rheumatologist.

Causes of rheumatoid arthritis flares

Although rheumatoid arthritis is categorized by stiffness and pain, flares can occur which are more severe episodes of common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis flares can be caused by the following:

  • Stress
  • Infection
  • Certain foods
  • Fatigue
  • Pregnancy

By recognizing your trigger you can have better success in reducing rheumatoid arthritis flares.

Treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis flaresRA

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis flares range from medical intervention to lifestyle habits. Here are some effective tips to help treat rheumatoid arthritis, especially during the holidays.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other over-the-counter-pain relievers
  • Disease-modifying treatments which work to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Immunosuppressants as rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and thus is a response to the immune system sometimes weakening the immune system can help treat it
  • Exercising and stretching
  • Keeping a healthy weight even if that means losing weight
  • Eating a balanced diet – but remember to avoid specific food triggers which you may have
  • Getting adequate rest
  • Get regular check-ups with your doctor, especially if the condition is worsening as to have medications checked and changed immediately
  • Know and understand your triggers
  • Manage and reduce stress
  • Don’t over-push yourself
  • Protect aching joints like wearing a brace, using a walking device
  • Follow your medication plan
  • Be aware of symptoms when they first emerge as to begin treatment right away
  • Rest when needed

These tips can not only help you better manage rheumatoid arthritis during the holidays but every day which follows as well. Some of these tips can help treat rheumatoid arthritis and others work as preventative methods to future flare-ups. As mentioned if you notice any changes in your condition always speak with your rheumatologist right away.

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