What Can You Do To Relieve The Pain During A Flare-up. What Is The Best That You Can Do?

Question

Asked by Lindsey

What Can You Do To Relieve The Pain During A Flare-up. What Is The Best That You Can Do?

What I am asking is... When the pain is really bad and you are sore all over, what is your best course of action. Is it rest? or are there other things you could/should do which might overcome the flare quicker - if you know what I mean.

I hate being ill. I am having one of those days today. Can you tell

Lindsey 22/9/08

Answer

Sorry you're having a rough day. Some days suck so much that your best option is to have what I call a "swish in the self-pity pool". Because, let's face it: the feelings are there and sometimes it's best to get that out of your system. Done in moderation, it can make it easier to get up and fight again the next day.

Aside from a good sulk, my first real, and probably most useful, suggestion is to go back to your rheumatologist and tell him/her that the meds aren't working well enough. Have you been on methotrexate long? If not, it could be that it's still working up to its maximum effect, but if you have been on it for several months, talk to your doctor about other options, including perhaps increasing your anti-inflammatories on bad days. Of course, if most of your days are bad, I'm back to increasing your meth or trying another drug - have you considered any of the Biologics?

Medication really is the best/only way to combat a flare, but they are a few things you can do to help yourself feel a little bit better. Try taking a cool bath, holding your hands in cold water (if your hands are affected) or if you are one of those people for whom cold and ice doesn't work, do the same thing with heat instead. Rest is good, but too much rest during a flare can limit function in your joints, so you need to do some sort of exercise. If you have access to a pool, do range of motion exercises and walk in the water - it's easier on the joints. Massage may help - I've had most help from shiatsu massage, but any kind of massage is good. As well, many people with RA find acupuncture helpful in providing relief from the pain. In terms of your diet, try staying away from potatoes, tomatoes and fried foods - according to my shiatsu therapist, these are foods that may increase inflammation (I especially noticed the thing about fried foods).

Lastly, there's the mental aspect. When you're having a flare and it feels like you're wrapped in pain and hopelessness, it messes with your mind and impairs your ability to cope. Being able to connect to a feeling of hope and faith in tomorrow is the most important thing you can do. Try meditating - it helps you feel more peaceful, opens you up so you can listen to your body and working with your body instead of against it will make it easier. As an aside, there are several forms of gentle exercise that are a sort of "meditation in motion" - yoga or tai chi may be helpful for you. Find laughter, whether it's by having a good chinwag with a friend, watching a silly movie or seeing kittens at play. There are many ways of connecting to that faith in tomorrow - some people go to church, others go into nature. There are books and audio programs that may help you - personally, I've found books on mindfulness very helpful in dealing with chronic pain. As well, connecting to other people with a chronic disease can be very liberating - you can read the share posts from the community here on HealthCentral or maybe consider writing some yourself - expressing your feelings within a group of people who understand exactly where you're coming from can help.

I think this got a little disjointed, but I hope some of it will help you. Please write again if you have other questions.

Answered by Lene Andersen, MSW