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Condition Information
Living Well
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Living Well

In this section we look at some of the things that can help you live well with your condition including

  • Medications
  • Managing pain
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Staying active
  • Surgery
  • Smoking
  • Vaccinations

Coping with a flare of arthritis

A flare is the word used to describe when your arthritis becomes more active. This can cause you to have more:

  • Joint swelling
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tiredness
  • Reduction in appetite

Sometimes a flare can occur after an infection, following surgery or a period of stress.

What can you do during a flare?

  • You can take your painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory tablets regularly. Never exceed the maximum recommended dose.
  • Use anti-inflammatory gels to reduce swelling on your hands, wrists, feet and knees
  • Use heat or ice on your joints. Where possible protect the skin with a towel before applying heat or cold to prevent burning or damaging the skin.

    You can use hot or cold treatments for up to 15 minutes at a time (but if you are using ice cubes in a bowl of water 5 minutes will be long enough!).
    • Examples of heat include
      • Wheat bag, hot water bottle, electric heat pad, jelly pack or a warm bath/shower.
    • Examples of cold include: –
      • Wheat bag, bag of frozen broad beans, bag of ice cubes, jelly pack or a bowl of water with ice cubes (for hands & feet).

What about rest and exercise during a flare?

  • During a flare it is important to ‘pace’ your activities. Try and balance out what you need to do during the day. For example after shopping have a rest to ‘top’ up your energy levels
  • Having a rest is not ‘giving’ into your arthritis but is a way of working with your arthritis
  • Try and keep moving your joints to reduce stiffness and keep the muscles working.

More information

For more information on coping with a flare click onto the websites below

Fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | NRAS

Managing flares in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | NRAS