The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be difficult to predict. Sometimes, your RA may appear to be in remission and you will notice few, if any, symptoms. Other times, even with effective treatment, your RA may be more active, and inflammation may increase enough to affect your daily routine. Your joints may feel stiffer than usual in the morning, and they may take longer to loosen up. These periods are known as flare-ups, and they can last from several days to several weeks, and sometimes longer.
Flare-ups may be related to common “triggers” such as stress, an infection, or fatigue. But they may also occur without any of these triggers, even if your treatment regimen is generally effective and if you’re staying on track with your medication therapy. The good news is that there are ways to help minimize the impact of flare-ups.
Tips for reducing the chances of a flare-up.
There are ways you can help prevent flare-ups and relieve symptoms. Follow these tips to help manage your RA:
- Take frequent breaks from activities that may drain your energy. Rest can help reduce inflammation and fatigue.
- Stay active. Exercise can help your muscles stay strong and flexible around your joints, reduce stiffness and help keep your joint mobility. It can also reduce stress, boost your mood and self-esteem.
- Take care of your joints. When considering how best to exercise, for example, consider swimming or other non-impact activities that won’t tax your joints. Talk to your doctor about how to limit stress on your joints.
- Reduce your stress. Stress may worsen your RA symptoms and trigger flare-ups. Try taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, deep breathing, or other activities you know put you in a more relaxed state.
- Eat a healthy diet. More vegetables and other healthy food choices mean better weight control, less stress on your joints, more energy to exercise, and the right nutrients to fight inflammation. Talk to your medical team about which foods may help your RA and which ones you should avoid.
Flare-ups will happen. You should always talk with your doctor if they happen often or don’t go away after a few days.
We know living with RA requires extra care. That’s why your CVS Specialty CareTeam is led by clinicians who are specially trained in RA. They can help you manage your RA, stay on track with your treatments, and manage the side effects of both the condition and its treatments, so that you can focus on living your life. Call your RA CareTeam at 1-800-237-2767 anytime to learn more.