Arthritis is mainly a disease of the tissues and bones that meet to form a joint. It is degenerative by nature that means the damage done to the joints and tissues cannot be reversed. An arthritis flare is described as an incident of increased diseased activity or worsening symptoms. Arthritis patients recognize a flare by the sudden intensity in joint pain along with other characteristic symptoms like fever, fatigue from increased pain in the joints, stiffness and reduced range of movement in the joint, joint swelling. During a flare the fatigue can become so intense that even after sleeping a whole night, you don’t feel fresh in the morning. Many factors are responsible for a flare which can be an acute or temporary condition. Flares can be controlled by medications and lifestyle changes. If your condition continues to get worse inspite of all the precautions then it is possible you might be experiencing a worsening in your joint damage and not a flare.
Causes for an Arthritis Flare
The exact reason for a flare can vary depending on the type of arthritis you may have. An injury or trauma to the already affected joint can cause a flare in osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis changes in the immune system can cause flares that are responsible for inflammation and swelling in the joint. Cartilage act like shock absorbers during any joint movement. Break down of cartilage leaves the joints more exposed to flares because of joint deterioration. Osteophytes or bone spurs can also cause flares. Bone spurs are tiny bony growth that spread in a damaged joint. Other causes for flare are stress, exercise related injury, cold weather, injections, a drop in barometric pressure, repeated movement, weight gain. If the pain persists even after medication then you need to consult your doctor for review and check the progress of your disease and also the reason for the flare.
Treatment for a Flare
To ascertain whether the problem is a flare or a worsening of the disease your doctor may recommend blood tests like ESR erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C- reactive protein CRP tests to differentiate between chronic or persistent inflammation or acute or current inflammation. Corticosteroids such as prednisone or methylprednisone, NSAIDs, ultram or tramadol. Your doctor may change the dosage or medications and therapy depending on the condition of your joints and the progress of the disease in your body. There are a lot of other therapies you can opt for like balance periods of activity with equal periods of rest, lose weight to remove excess stress from your joints, use hot or cold packs to relieve pain and inflammation, acupuncture, heat therapy for relief from stiffness, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises help by reducing stress, massage therapy from a specialized physiotherapist for arthritis conditions.