Absolutely. Overdoing it is (in my unscientific assessment) the most frequent cause of flares. Have you heard of the Spoon Theory? It's a way of making energy real and tangible and can help you to work in such a way that you don't overdo it. Realizing where your limits are and working within them (most of the time) is the best way to keep flares at bay. It took me a long time to really incorporate this way of doing things into my life. I'd often feel as if I would have to do everything I possibly could when I was feeling good, because who knew how I would feel tomorrow. However, that always lead to overdoing things, which guaranteed that the next day (and several days after that) would be spent in a flare and recovering. I eventually realized that doing a little every day over time would get more done because I would be able to do something every day.
For instance, I use my dining room table as a horizontal filing area and once it had gotten seriously out of control.. I knew that cleaning the whole table in one go would put me out of commission for the rest of the week, so I decided to try working within my limits. I dealt with 4 items a day, absolutely no more. It took two weeks, but the table got done without me suffering for it. Making the rule of not dealing with more than 4 items a day worked really well. On bad days, I had enough energy to do the four items and then rest. On good days, I did four items and had energy to spare for other things.
Of course, every now and again overdoing it is inevitable and sometimes, the resulting flare is worth it. However, if you remember to work within your limits most days, your overall pain levels should go down.
Overdoing it makes me miserable, but I can't seem to figure out exactly when I'm there. I start out ok at the beginning of, let's say a trip to the grocery store. But by the time I've been through the produce section, I'm beggining to feel tired. By the time someone's unruly toddler has run into me with his mom's cart, I'm getting frazzled and struggle not to snap at him. By the time I pick up a bag of cat litter, I'm in serious trouble. Once it's all home, in the door, and put away, I feel like I'm not going to be able to do another thing until the next grocery trip, and yet there's always something else that has to be done. My husband wants the wife back who just cheerfully did everything without complaining and didn't need help with much of anything at all. She's not coming back.
It sure can, at least in my book! I hope yours settles down fast for you, Leslie. I have learned over the years to up some of my meds when I have a lot to do. PLEASE speak to your rheumy about adjusting any meds though, dont do it on your own. (We are not doctors, just fellow RA patients that are here to share our personal experiences with RA) Learning how much is too much is a hard thing to do. Sometimes it seems like a small amount is too much, sometimes it is not. Just another fun aspect of RA. Hope you feel better soon!
I'll just echo that YES overdoing it can cause my RA to flare. Not getting enough rest seems to make my symptoms worse when I've gotten really run down. Also, eating foods to which I'm personally sensitive can cause inflammation which shows up in my hands. My rheumatologist stresses that I need to keep her informed as to how my RA is doing, especially if something happens in between visits.
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