Managing rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing balancing act. Flare-ups can still present despite following the rheumatologist’s lifestyle instructions, proper medication use, and a well-maintained RA plan. Monitoring daily activities can help minimize the chances of experiencing episodes.
Table of Contents
Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare-Ups
A rheumatoid arthritis flare-up is a short-term escalation of arthritis symptoms. A flare-up can go away within a day or can persist for several weeks or months. A flare-up usually involves joint stiffness and pain but can also present as any symptoms worsening. If the flare-up is severe, it can affect the ability to perform regular everyday activities.
Symptoms can vary, and not every person experiences the same. Most individuals describe flare-ups with a sudden increase in:
- Limited joint mobility
- Symptoms that feel like the flu.
- Frequency and severity can also vary.
Back Pain Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many joints. It is the inflammation of a jointâ€™s synovial membrane. These include the facet joints in the spine. The most commonplace in the spine affected by rheumatoid arthritis is the upper neck, around the base of the skull. The joints at the top of the neck get inflamed and can become unstable or form abnormal tissue that sticks out and compress the spinal cord.
Several potential flare-up triggers include:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Medication changes
- Excessive physical activity and/or exercise
- Repetitive overuse injury
- Spinal infections
Airborne toxins can also be a trigger to a flare-up. Substances include chemicals like household cleaners. Switching to organic and environmentally safe cleaners can help. Airborne toxins are a concern in densely populated cities and areas that experience air pollution and smog. To minimize risks, staying indoors during times of poor air quality is recommended.
However, flare-ups can happen without an identifiable trigger. Certain foods can increase inflammation and could contribute to a flare-up, including:
- Processed meats
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Processed sugars
- High salt foods
- High-MSG foods
Avoiding these foods and following a diet that has been developed to prevent symptoms will help significantly. The objective is to learn to identify an RA flare-up to moderate activities accordingly.
Managing any chronic medical condition is challenging, especially when trying to predict when a flare-up will happen. There is not a foolproof strategy for prevention, but advice that can help minimize the risks of an RA flare-up.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Proper nutrition
- Eat as much whole, unprocessed foods
- Avoid pro-inflammatory foods
- Practice healthy sleep hygiene
- Reduce stress through relaxation and meditation techniques
- Regular light impact exercise
Understand that the disease can change over time. This means changes in medications and the need for multi-approach treatment. Learning healthy self-care techniques will go a long way in managing symptoms.
Metabolic processes, like energy production, and environmental pollution, can result in free radical production. These are highly reactive molecules that can damage the body’s cells and lead to oxidative stress. This can develop into a disease, including heart disease. The body has natural protective mechanisms to neutralize free radical molecules, including glutathione, which is the bodyâ€™s top antioxidant. If glutathione becomes depleted because of increased free radicals, the body switches to dietary antioxidants from food as a secondary defense.
Antioxidant therapy is a promising treatment for oxidative stress.
Fruit and Plant Sources
Fruits and veggies like:
- Dark-colored grapes
- Sweet potatoes
- All are great sources of antioxidants.
Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.) â€œUnderstanding rheumatoid arthritis flares.â€ www.arthritis.org/diseases/more-about/understanding-rheumatoid-arthritis-flares
Pham-Huy, Lien Ai et al. â€œFree radicals, antioxidants in disease and health.â€ International Journal of biomedical science: IJBS vol. 4,2 (2008): 89-96.
The information herein on "Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare-Ups Management" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card