Tips To Handling Stress
1. Stay as active as you can
Exercise and physical activity such as walking and swimming help:
- Reduce the stiffness that comes with arthritis
- Control weight, which reduces stress on joints
- Release the feel-good endorphin hormones, which can both improve your mood and block pain.
Dr. Model offers the example of one of her patients: Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, she was active in a hiking club, often spending three to five hours at a time out on the trail. She got braces, learned how to cope and it hasnt stopped her shes doing great, Dr. Model says.
She also recommends yoga, Pilates and hot-water therapy to foster relaxation and help cope with the stress of arthritis.
Some people are more motivated to follow an exercise program at home, while others may need the support of a class instructor, personal trainer or physical therapist. Whatever it takes to get them moving, she says.
2. Keep pain in check
Talk to your doctor about drugs to help reduce the pain. There is no medicine to cure arthritis, but nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help control your pain. And, as mentioned above, keeping your pain in check can help reduce stress levels and vice versa.
What type, how much and how often you should take an NSAID will vary depending on what type of arthritis you have and your symptoms.
3. Eat right to fight inflammation
Eating healthy, especially foods shown to improve arthritis symptoms, can help reduce stress and pain.
Previously She Had Experienced Joint Flares But Then A Severe Whole Body Flare ‘crept’ Upon Her
Many flares came on without warning, but overuse of or trauma to a particular joint could produce a joint flare. Other flare triggers included cold or hot weather, getting too cold, stressful situations and certain types of food .Flares reduced general mobility and affected walking, eating and personal care. They also disturbed sleep.People found relief from the symptoms of a flare in many different ways. Changing medication included increasing the dose of painkillers, anti-inflammatories or steroids and if the flare persisted people had steroid pulses/injections and joint injections . Getting rest and sleep and using heat or cold were most often used. Some people said that hot baths, hot water bottles, electric blankets, heat pads and putting affected joints, e.g. hands, in hot water worked for them. However another group of people we interviewed felt that keeping joints cool if they were hot and swollen was the answer. People used ice, cold water, cold wet towels, cooling foot cream and wet wipes. One man described the relief he got for his hands. TENS machines, wrist splints, a supportive foam knee cushion and rubbing Tiger Balm on joints and fasting for 48 hours were also mentioned.
Just When You Thought Your Back Was Safe From Rheumatoid Arthritis An Ra Flare Up Strikes Your Spine Learn How To Manage And Prevent Ra Flare Ups
Managing your rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing balancing act. Youve had your share of painful symptoms, and your rheumatologist has prescribed medication that should help you handle them. Youre also doing your best to follow your doctors lifestyle instructions, even though you may have hit a few bumps in the road. Overall, you think youre on a good path.
Learn how to manage RA flare ups in your spinal joints.
And then, you wake up one morning and you can barely get out of bed. Your joints feel swollen and stiff, and its a challenge to even get through your morning routine. Youre likely experiencing a rheumatoid arthritis flare up, and youre certainly not alone. Even people with well-controlled RA symptoms can be surprised by sudden flare ups.
Learning how to manage your RA flare ups will help you to better manage your overall health. By monitoring your daily activities, you can also minimize your chances of experiencing these uncomfortable episodes.
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What Can Cause Hip Arthritis To Flare Up
The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint and is one of the largest joints in the human body. The sections of bone in the joint are protected by cartilage, which is a tough, smooth tissue designed to absorb shock, reduce friction, and allow the bones to glide together smoothly. When the cartilage wears down, this causes arthritis due to bone-on-bone rubbing.
If you have hip arthritis, you know that some days can be better than others. When arthritis symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and swelling become worse or more intense, this is known as a flare-up.
A flare-up can come on unexpectedly and can take a toll on your lifestyle. Lets talk about what can cause hip arthritis to flare up, and where you can go for an orthopedic evaluation and treatment that reduces or eliminates your hip pain.
Keep Taking Your Medications
The Covid pandemic has brought unexpected challenges for patients who manage an autoimmune illness.
Some common RA drugs work by suppressing the immune system, prompting some patients to worry about how taking them might impact their health during the pandemic. According to Dr. Baker, studies have been published this year indicating there’s an uptick in RA patients discontinuing their medication without talking with their healthcare provider first, and he’s seeing it firsthand.
“Some people have stopped their medicine throughout this time, either because they’re worried about getting COVID, or because it’s harder to get their medicine,” says Dr. Baker. The doctor cautions his patients against discontinuing medication now, “because there’s a real risk to stopping, and the benefit of stopping is unclear.”
What that means is that, even though some types of RA medications can suppress the immune system, there’s no evidence to suggest that continuing to take them can make a patient more likely to contract COVID, or have a worse outcome from the disease. However, there is evidence that stopping treatment can negatively impact your health.
Another potential risk of tapering off medication, even if you’ve been feeling well: If anything changes, it may be difficult to reverse course. “It’s just harder to get access to your doctor, and it’s harder to come in to get your joints evaluated, so I’ve been avoiding rocking the boat right now,” says Dr. Baker.
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Definition And Measurement Of Stress
The stress response system is made up of psychological, affective and neuroendocrine components that can be activated by a range of physical and psychosocial stressors. A stressor is any event that activates the stress response system, which, in turn, attempts to return the organism to a homeostatic state . Often, biological approaches focus solely on physiological aspects of the stress response, and the type of stressor is incidental to the model except when they differ in intensity of the elicited response . Nonetheless, a number of investigations have examined the effects of psychosocial stressors on RA . The concept of stress is pivotal in RA as living with a painful, chronic and somewhat unpredictable disease can be a significant source of stress in itself . This further complicates the task of distinguishing and measuring different dimensions of stress, and determining whether stressors are disease related . Researchers have taken different conceptual and measurement approaches when investigating the role of psychosocial stressors in RA disease activity, and adjustment outcomes. Psychosocial stressors may vary along a number of important dimensions, such as major or minor events, acute or chronic, anticipated or not, single or multiple events, sudden or gradual onset, and interpersonal, to name but a few . We will discuss briefly examples of stressors most commonly used in RA research.
Stress Does Cause Ra Flares
And in more than one way. Stress is involved in increasing some of the inflammatory mediatorsthe big proinflammatory cytokines like IL1, IL6, and TNFthat also exacerbate joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness, says Dr. Askanase. The autonomic nervous system, which regulates our stress response, also plays a role. Its in a state of hypervigilance, and thats partly responsible for arthritis pain. Plus, stress affects our perception of pain, and thats powerful. Stress exhausts your coping mechanisms, so pain that you may have been able to tune out before may become more relevant, explains Dr. Askanase.
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Preventing Ra Flare Ups In The Back
When managing any chronic medical condition, its difficult to predict when a flare up will occur. As a result, there isnt a foolproof strategy for preventing one.
Dr. Mukai does have some advice that should minimize your risks of an RA flare up in the back. a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition .Getting good sleep , reducing stress , and not smoking can all help to reduce risk of RA flareups, says Dr. Mukai.
Finally, Dr. Mukai offers bigger-picture recommendations that should help all RA patients better manage their condition. Patients in RA should have a good long-term relationship with their rheumatologists and understand that their disease can change over time, necessitating change in medications and need for multimodal treatment. Learning good self-care techniques early will go a long way in managing symptoms.
Make Exercise A Priority
When your joints ache, you might not feel like going for a brisk walk or swimming laps. Try your best to do something.
Being active is especially good for people with RA. It eases pain, improves mood, lowers stress, and helps keep joints mobile.
Go for cardio . Pick activities that are easy on your joints, like swimming and walking.
Also do strength training. You can use light weights, machines at the gym, resistance bands, or your own body weight .
If youâre not active already, ask your doctor whatâs OK for you to do. And pace yourself. You may need to take it easier when you have a flare.
If your symptoms get in the way of exercise, work with a physical therapist who specializes in treating people with RA. You’ll learn ways to build strength, feel better, and zap stress.
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Get The Best Of Stress
Just because you have RA doesnt mean you have to feel stressed all the time. Theres plenty you can do to control the stress in your life and reduce its impact on your well-being. Here are five ways
1. Exercise. It can help with depression, , and sleep. Physical activity can even increase levels of chemicals in your body that improve your mood.
2. Breathe deeply. To promote relaxation, practice deep breathing, in through the nose and out through your mouth. Feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe.
3. Talk it out. Telling someone about negative emotions youre experiencing can help relieve stress. If you dont feel comfortable talking about these things, write them down in a journal.
4. Embrace the outdoors. Spending time in nature can boost your mood and quell stress. Take a hike or scenic drive. Enjoy a picnic. Plant a garden.
5. Get organized. At the end of each workday, create a to-do list for the following day. This can help you leave work behind so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
When To See A Doctor About A Flare
If you’re experiencing joint pain that flares up from time to time, Dr. Alam recommends being evaluated.
“For many people, arthritis starts as a flare-up, and it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Remember, you need to know the specific type of arthritis you’re suffering from to be able to prevent or alleviate future flare-ups,” says Dr. Alam.
For instance, you won’t know whether to use ice or heat to relieve your joint pain unless you know if it’s rheumatoid arthritis or gout as opposed to osteoarthritis.
“In addition, and particularly for rheumatoid arthritis, seeking a diagnosis early on gives you a better chance of avoiding the permanent joint damage this condition can cause,” explains Dr. Alam.
And even if you’ve been diagnosed, there are still times you may need to see your doctor about a flare-up.
“It’s very important to call your doctor if you’re experiencing pain in a new joint or if your flare-up is severe, since this could be a sign of arthritic infection,” warns Dr. Alam.
If you’re experiencing a mild flare-up in a joint you’re used to experiencing pain, your doctor may be able to help you manage that pain by prescribing medications over the phone but only if he or she is already familiar with you and your condition.
Lastly, Dr. Alam recommends approaching supplements with skepticism.
Prepare Ahead Of Time
Keep track of when your flares happen so you can learn to identify triggers. If you think, for example, that weather affects your flares, OA patients need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds, Dr. Bose says. In addition, RA patients should stay compliant with their medication regimen. If you suspect your diet could be a culprit, monitor what foods youre eating, says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who works with arthritis patients and a clinical professor at Boston University.
Have a plan for when flares inevitably occur. Jacobs says to arrange ahead of time with your employer to work from home or make other adjustments if needed. An inflammatory arthritis patient will often, in time, have a sense of whether they are starting to flare, Dr. Ashany says.
How Long A Flare Lasts
The length of a flare varies, and can be different for different people. Some may experience it for a year, months, or days. A flare can last as long as there isn’t a change in treatment. In one study, flares lasted longer than two weeks in 30% of participants, one to two weeks in 13%, and less than one week in 57%. Longer duration of a flare was associated with changes in disease-modifying therapy.
It’s essential to work with your healthcare provider to monitor your symptoms and tweak your treatment plan accordingly when you experience RA flares.
Patients with RA experience flares more often when noted to be in higher disease activity states than when in remission.
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Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Caused By Stress
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint condition and an autoimmune disease. It has no definite cure and only the symptoms can be managed. At times, treatment can make rheumatoid arthritis symptoms disappear for a while. This symptom-free period is referred to as remission. A remission is followed by the reappearance of symptoms and this period is known as a flare-up.
Research says that rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by stress. Stress triggers rheumatoid arthritis by setting off the immune systems inflammatory response in which cytokines are released. Cytokines are chemicals that play an important role in inflammation and can increase the severity of rheumatoid arthritis in some patients. The greater the exposure to stress, the greater the inflammation becomes. This triggers a rheumatoid arthritis flare.
Inflammation And Stress: Theyre Closely Connected
Research shows that stress may play a role in the cascading process that leads to inflammation and causes RA pain. Inflammation in RA is partly caused by molecules called cytokines. While cytokines can be released for a variety of reasons, stress also releases them. If youre stressed and are producing more cytokines, you will most likely develop more inflammation, which may result in more pain.
Whether we consider rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus, or any other rheumatic disease, the presence of emotional stress may well exacerbate the condition, says Richard Roseff, MD, a rheumatologist at Danbury Hospital and a private practitioner in Danbury and Ridgefield, Connecticut.
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Having A Cold Or Other Infection
Getting sick can start a chain reaction that leads to painful arthritis symptoms. According to Dr. Jain, infections can make your immune system even more active, making it likelier it will attack your own joints. We also often tell patients to stop taking their rheumatoid arthritis medication if they are on antibiotics , says Dr. Jain. That combination can lead to flares. It can be harder for rheumatoid arthritis patients to avoid getting sick since the medication prescribed often suppresses the immune system. Thats why its so important to reduce your risk, like by getting the flu vaccine every year, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding others who are ill.
No matter what triggered your flare, its important to talk to your doctor and get it under control as soon as you can to avoid serious damage to your joints.
Articles On Living With Ra Flares
Researchers still don’t fully understand the link between stress and RA. It may involve things related to your bodyâs stress response and inflammation.
Use these proven methods to curb stress.
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Signs Of A Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare
Whats more, people with rheumatoid arthritis have different receptors on their immune cells MHC receptors which are more likely to bind to self-proteins, explains Ashira Blazer, MD, a rheumatologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City. Environmental triggers can aggravate the immune system and cause these proteins to end up in the joint space, which can lead to inflammation and damage. Also, during a flare, antigens make their way into the joints, and when immune cells in the joints become activated, the linings of the joints become inflamed. The result: Red, hot, tender, swollen joints signs of a flare.