How Can I Prevent RA Flares?
First things first: Check in with your doc about whether your treatment is working for you.
Here's rock-solid advice about RA flares from rheumatologist Susan M. Goodman, M.D., attending physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
RA flares can be a little unpredictable. We know that certain stresses are linked to flares. Undergoing major surgery, for instance, will frequently lead to a post-op flare. Many patients report frequent flares. The best way is to track the course of your disease. If you are having frequent flares, we would assume that your RA really isn't under optimal control. Again, that's the time to talk to your rheumatologist. If you're having frequent flares, you're at risk for joint damage, similar to what you would see if you had sustained joint inflammation. It really is important that you really strive to achieve the best control of disease.
If you're having a very rare flare—many patients report that they'll bring on a flare if they perform excessive activities, like around Christmas and the holidays, if they're doing a lot of cooking or wrapping a lot of packages and their very active—that may precipitate pain and swelling in the hands. If that happens, then a short course of medication—corticosteroids, nonsteroidal—may be all you need to get things back under control.