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Arthritis Flare-Ups: What Can Cause Them and What to Do?

You know the signs of an arthritis flare-up – inflammation, pain, stiffness, fatigue, and possibly even a fever. As if your day-to-day arthritis symptoms aren’t bad enough, arthritis flare-ups make those symptoms even worse.

In this article, we’ll look at some common triggers of arthritis flare-ups, how you can try to prevent them from happening, and what to do if you are experiencing a flare.
Keep reading to learn how you can manage your arthritis flares.

What Can Trigger an Arthritis Flare-Up?

Arthritis flare-ups can be triggered by a long list of things.
A few of the triggers commonly reported are:
  • Stress
  • Weather
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Mediations
  • Allergies
  • Diet
  • Excess Activity
 If you aren’t sure if you are experiencing an arthritis flare, your doctor can help. Your doctor can complete a physical exam and perform any necessary lab tests necessary to identify the flare and possibly the cause.
Once you know what an arthritis flare-up is like, you will be able to better manage them from home in the future.

7 Ways to Prevent Future Arthritis Flare-Ups

Luckily, you may be able to cut down on the number of arthritis flare-ups you are experiencing by doing a few simple things.

Know Your Triggers

The things that trigger your arthritis flare-ups might not cause a problem for someone else. Every person’s body responds differently.
Try to document the circumstances around every flare-up (like the weather shifting or the food you ate) and see if you notice any patterns so that you can better prepare for future issues.
Once you know your triggers, you can try to avoid or at least limit your exposure to them.

Get Help

You need to give yourself a break and not try to do it all alone. Try to find someone who can help with some or all of the activities that may aggravate your arthritis.
It can be hard to admit when you are having a hard time, but you are only increasing the likelihood of an arthritis flare by pushing yourself too hard.

Protect Yourself From Infection

For inflammatory types of arthritis that are triggered by an immune response, an illness or infection can really set your arthritis symptoms off.
Take extra precautions to avoid illnesses like the flu and go see the doctor if you believe you could have any kind of infection.

Get Enough Rest

Our bodies need rest. You need to make sure you are getting plenty of sleep to prevent your body from becoming run down.
Getting quality rest with arthritis pain can sometimes be difficult, so don’t hesitate to add in a nap during the day if you need to.
Try to learn the limits of your body and not overdo them.


Though rest is a necessity, you don’t want to become stagnant.
Your joints are supported by your muscles, meaning you need to engage in a regular exercise routine to maintain your strength.
By exercising, you are helping to prevent injuries that will cause more arthritis pain in the future.

Don’t Skip Your Medications

Taking your medications every day at the same time keeps the dosage evenly distributed in your body.
You want to try to avoid accidentally missing doses or taking medications at different times on different days.
Many people find it helpful to set aside time every morning and every evening to take their medications as directed by their doctor.

Manage Stress

You may think that stress only impacts your mental health, but that’s not true. When you are stressed, your brain releases chemicals that can cause your arthritis to flare, among other things.
Unfortunately, not all stress in life can be avoided. To keep your arthritis from flaring up, you need to try to manage your stress as best as you can, though.
If you find yourself in high-stress situations that you cannot manage on your own, ask your doctor what options are available to help.

How To Treat an Arthritis Flare-Up

Sometimes arthritis flare-ups cannot be prevented. At this point, all you can do is get through it the best you can. There are some things you can do that may help provide you some relief.

Make a Plan

You should try to have a plan in place for when you are experiencing arthritis flare-ups.

If you have unavoidable activities that cannot be canceled when your arthritis acts up, let the key people involved know what is happening; that way, accommodations can be made.

Apply Heat or Cold

You can choose to use a hot or cold compact or a hot/cold cream, whichever better fits your needs.
If you are using a heating pad or an ice pack, you’ll want to apply it directly to the painful area for 15-20 minute intervals throughout the day.
For the hot/cold cream, you’ll need to follow the product instructions and be sure not to overuse the topical treatment.


When you’re already in pain, it’s essential to get enough rest. You don’t want to put more pressure on your inflamed joints.

 You may feel like you are getting behind, but your body needs the time to rest to not prolong the pain. Don’t push yourself during a flare.

Low-Impact Movement

While you must get plenty of rest during a flare, you have to be careful of being too still.

It’s crucial to get in some low-impact movement like going for a short walk or stretching. There are also hand exercises you can do to keep the joints from becoming stiff.

Consult Your Doctor

If you find that you can’t get any relief or that your flare-ups are happening more often, it is time to consult your doctor.

 You may need to evaluate your lifestyle and current treatments to determine if there is anything that should be changed moving forward.


You don’t have to suffer in silence when your arthritis flares up. You can do things to help ease the pain, and there are also ways you can help prevent new flare-ups from happening as often.

Identifying your common triggers and learning to limit your exposure to them can help to keep your arthritis manageable.


Phil-Eve Senior

The article was helpful inasmuch as I feel so ill and so alone and that know one understands.
I have such a lot of stress in my life and that makes it so worse.
i am on Morphine liquid and tablets i cant take anti inflammatory tablets.

Patricia Bramich

Im in the middle of a flare up but I dont know what has caused it. I am trying to see a doctor as I think I may have an infection. It is really hard to see a doctor so at the moment I am just waiting

Verne Leonard

This article was very informative and helpful. Thankyou

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