• 0

    Your Cart is Empty

    How Long Does an Arthritis Flare Up Last? Treatments & Tips

    Learn how long an arthritis flare up lasts, the treatments available, and helpful tips on managing your condition. Get relief & start feeling better today!

    December 20, 2023   |    3 Mins Read


    Managing arthritis involves navigating the unpredictable nature of flare-ups. Knowing the signs, triggers, and typical duration of these episodes is crucial. Equally important is having an arsenal of effective treatments and practical tips at your disposal. This knowledge not only helps in better managing the condition but also significantly enhances your quality of life despite the challenges of living with arthritis.

    What Does An Arthritis Flare Up Feel Like?

    How can I differentiate between a flare-up and regular arthritis pain? Flare-ups can last for a few days to weeks before gradually subsiding. If you experience a sudden onset of severe pain that lasts for an extended period, it is more likely to be a flare-up. The intensity of the pain during a flare-up is generally higher and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

    Increased Joint Pain:

    In arthritis flare-ups, pain is not just a symptom but a significant barrier. It escalates in intensity and can spread across multiple joints, leading to a feeling of general achiness, tenderness, and heightened sensitivity to touch. This increased pain is more than discomfort; it can impede daily activities and disrupt sleep patterns, making even simple tasks daunting.


    Swelling during arthritis flare-ups is a direct result of inflammation within the joint. This inflammation leads to an increased accumulation of fluid and immune cells in the joint space, causing the joint to become swollen, warm to the touch, and often red or puffy in appearance. The swelling not only signifies active inflammation but also contributes to increased pain and stiffness.


    One of the most common complaints during an arthritis flare is joint stiffness. The stiffness is most pronounced after periods of inactivity, such as upon waking in the morning. It can severely limit mobility, making routine tasks challenging and impacting the overall quality of life. This stiffness underscores the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle with regular, gentle exercises tailored to improve joint flexibility and mobility, even during flare-ups.


    Fatigue in arthritis flare-ups can range from a feeling of general tiredness to an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. This fatigue is often a byproduct of the body's heightened immune response and the continuous pain and discomfort experienced during a flare. It can significantly impact a person’s energy levels, making daily activities strenuous and often requiring adjustments in daily routines and rest patterns to manage effectively.

    Reduced Range of Motion:

    During arthritis flare-ups, a reduced range of motion in the affected joints is a common issue. This reduction in flexibility can make it harder to perform tasks that require bending, lifting, or reaching. The joints may feel more rigid and less flexible, pointing to the need for targeted exercises and treatments that focus on maintaining and improving joint mobility and flexibility..

    Mental Fogginess:

    Many individuals with arthritis report a sense of mental fogginess or difficulty in concentrating during flare-ups. This cognitive symptom, often referred to as "brain fog," can impact an individual's ability to focus, remember, or process information efficiently. It is thought to be linked to the inflammation's effect on the central nervous system, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to arthritis treatment that addresses both physical and cognitive symptoms.

    It's important to note that the symptoms and severity of an arthritis flare can vary from person to person and may depend on the specific type of arthritis they have.

    What Triggers Osteoarthritis Flare-Ups?

    Osteoarthritis flare-ups often result from specific triggers. While osteoarthritis itself stems from joint wear and tear, its flare-ups, characterized by increased pain and stiffness, have identifiable causes. Here's a breakdown of common triggers:

    1. Overuse or Excessive Activities: Engaging in activities that strain the joints, especially those that are repetitive or intense, can lead to flare-ups. It's important for individuals with osteoarthritis to balance activity with rest and not overexert their joints.
    2. Cold Weather: Many people with osteoarthritis report worsened symptoms in cold weather. The exact reason isn't clear, but it's believed that lower temperatures might increase joint stiffness and discomfort.
    3. Infection or Joint Injury: Any form of joint stress, including infections or injuries, can aggravate osteoarthritis symptoms. Even minor injuries can trigger a flare-up in a joint already weakened by arthritis.
    4. Stress: Physical and emotional stress can have a surprising impact on osteoarthritis. Stress can tighten muscles and worsen joint pain, leading to more pronounced symptoms.
    5. Weight Gain: Extra weight puts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. This increased stress can trigger flare-ups, making weight management an essential aspect of managing osteoarthritis.

    Recognizing and managing these triggers can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of osteoarthritis flare-ups.

    Why Does Osteoarthritis Flare Up At Night?

    Osteoarthritis often flares up at night due to a combination of factors. Throughout the day, the joints are subjected to various stresses and strains, especially weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. This daily activity can cause the already worn cartilage in osteoarthritic joints to become more inflamed.

    One theory suggests that during sleep, there is an increased circulation of inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines, to the affected joints. At the same time, there may be a decrease in the production of anti-inflammatory hormones. This imbalance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors could contribute to joint stiffness and worsen the symptoms of an OA flare-up during the night.

    Secondly, our perception of pain can differ between day and night. During the day, our minds are often occupied with various tasks and distractions which can help to divert our attention away from the pain. However, at night when we are trying to sleep, there are fewer distractions.

    Furthermore, research has shown that there is a reciprocal relationship between sleep and OA pain. Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep can contribute to increased pain sensitivity and a higher likelihood of experiencing OA flare-ups. Disrupted sleep patterns, such as frequent awakenings or difficulty falling asleep, may further exacerbate the pain experienced at night.

    How Long Does An Arthritis Flare Up Lasts?

    On average, arthritis flare-ups tend to last about three to five days. However, it's important to note that flare-ups can extend beyond this average duration. These episodes, characterized by intensified symptoms, can vary in duration based on several factors.

    Type of Arthritis

    The specific type of arthritis a person has is a key factor in determining the length of a flare-up. For example, rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder, often results in longer and more intense flare-ups. This differs from osteoarthritis, a wear-and-tear type of arthritis, where flare-ups might be shorter and less severe. Understanding the nature of the specific arthritis type helps in managing expectations and preparing appropriate treatment plans.

    Influence of Individual Health Factors

    A person's overall health status significantly impacts the duration of arthritis flare-ups. Individuals with stronger immune systems or better general health often face shorter and milder flare-ups. Factors like diet, exercise, and pre-existing health conditions play a role in this variance. Maintaining good health can, therefore, be a vital strategy in managing arthritis and reducing the impact of flare-ups.

    Treatment Response

    How a person responds to arthritis treatment greatly influences the duration of flare-ups. Quick and effective treatment can substantially shorten and alleviate these episodes. This underscores the importance of timely medical intervention and adherence to prescribed treatment plans. Regular consultations with healthcare providers ensure that treatment remains effective and responsive to changing symptoms, thereby playing a crucial role in controlling the length and severity of arthritis flare-ups.

    Understanding these factors is crucial for those living with arthritis. It empowers them to work closely with healthcare providers to develop tailored strategies that not only address the symptoms during a flare-up but also aim to reduce their frequency and severity

    What Can You Do Ahead Of Time To Prevent Arthritis Flare-Ups?

    Preventing an arthritis flare-up involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and proactive medical management. One key strategy is to be mindful of your baseline activity level and how it affects your arthritis symptoms.

    Below are the non-pharmacological tips you can do to prevent inflammation and arthritis flares: 

    • Healthy Diet: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Certain foods, like those high in omega-3 fatty acids, have anti-inflammatory properties which can help manage arthritis.
    • Regular Exercise: low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, or walking can help keep your joints flexible and strong, reducing the likelihood of a flare-up.
    • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on your joints, particularly the knees and hips. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce this pressure and lower the chances of a flare-up.
    • Avoid Repetitive Movements: Repeatedly doing the same motion can stress your joints and trigger a flare-up. If your job or hobby involves repetitive movements, take breaks and stretch regularly.
    • Use of Heat and Cold: Applying a warm pad can help loosen stiff joints, and using an ice pack can help reduce inflammation and pain. Remember not to apply ice or heat directly to the skin; always wrap it in a cloth.
    • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep your joints lubricated and potentially prevent flare-ups.
    • Manage Stress: High stress levels can trigger flare-ups. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help manage stress.
    • Adequate Sleep: Good sleep is essential for your body to repair and renew itself. Lack of sleep can trigger arthritis flare-ups.
    • Elevate Your Knees: When you lift your legs, you're taking the load off your joints, which can help reduce the swelling that often comes with arthritis. Additionally, elevating your legs improves circulation in the area, which can help speed up the healing process and relieve pain.
    • Use assistive devices or orthotic shoes: One option is using walking aids such as canes or crutches, which help distribute weight away from the affected knee joint, reducing pressure and discomfort. Another alternative is using shoe inserts or orthotic insoles designed specifically for arthritis, as they can provide cushioning and support to the foot arch, promoting proper alignment and reducing stress on the knees. 

    Treatments of Osteoarthritis Flares

    Managing the symptoms of arthritis can be challenging, especially when they flare up. It is important to understand that flares cannot always be prevented, but there are certain strategies that may help reduce the frequency and intensity of your symptoms. Here are some tips for stopping an arthritis flare-up:

    Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly available over the counter and can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation associated with OA flares. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

    However, it's important to use these medications as directed and consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications to avoid potential interactions or side effects.

    Prescription Medications

    If OTC medications don't provide sufficient relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs to manage OA flares.

    These may include prescription NSAIDs, corticosteroids (either oral or injected directly into the joint), or hyaluronic acid injections to provide lubrication and cushioning to the joint.

    Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biologic therapies may be considered for individuals with OA and underlying inflammatory components.

    Joint Replacement Surgery

    In cases where conservative treatments have not been effective and OA severely impacts daily life, joint replacement surgery may be recommended. This surgical procedure involves removing damaged joint surfaces and replacing them with artificial implants.

    Compression Therapy

    Using compression wraps or knee sleeves for arthritis can provide targeted support to the affected joint. This can reduce swelling and provide stability to the knee, which can help manage pain and improve mobility during a flare-up.

    Compression therapy can also help improve blood flow to the joint, promoting healing and recovery. You can wear the sleeve during activities that aggravate your arthritis symptoms or even throughout the day, depending on your comfort level and the severity of your flare-up.

    Wrapping a sore knee with knee compression sleeves is a conventional method that a lot of people use. The reason this works could be because of something called the "Gate Control Theory of Pain". This theory says that our body can change how we feel pain by using touch signals. When you wrap your knee, the touch sensors in your skin feel it and send this touch information quickly to your spinal cord. 

    Pain signals, on the other hand, travel a bit slower. So, the touch signals reach the spinal cord before the pain signals do. This makes your brain focus more on the touch and less on the pain, which helps reduce how much pain you feel.

    Plus, the squeezing action also helps to improve our sense of body position, which can make movements steadier and more controlled.

    Read this article for the full benefits of knee compression sleeves.


    Acupuncture has been increasingly recognized as a beneficial method for managing arthritis flare-ups. This ancient Chinese technique involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is thought to work by stimulating the body's natural painkillers and altering pain-processing signals in the brain.

    Expert tip:

    Some doctors suggest considering acupuncture or acupressure as alternative therapies for managing OA flare-ups. These practices involve stimulating specific points in the body to promote pain relief and reduce inflammation.

    Should You Walk During an Arthritis Flare Up?

    Deciding whether to walk during an arthritis flare-up requires a careful evaluation of your condition. While low-impact exercises like walking are generally recommended for arthritis management, flare-ups change the equation. During these periods, joints become more inflamed and painful, necessitating a reassessment of your usual exercise routine.

    1. Benefits of Walking: Walking helps maintain joint mobility and strengthens muscles supporting the joints, which is beneficial for long-term arthritis management.
    2. Listening to Your Body: The key during a flare-up is to listen to your body. Some individuals find that gentle walking during a flare-up is manageable and can even aid in alleviating some symptoms.
    3. Recognizing Limits: On the other hand, for some, walking might worsen the pain and inflammation. It's essential to recognize and respect these limits to avoid exacerbating your condition.
    4. Adjusting Your Routine: If walking causes discomfort, consider reducing the intensity or duration of your walks. Alternatively, explore other low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling, which might be more comfortable during a flare-up.

    Remember, the goal is to balance maintaining activity with not aggravating your symptoms.

    Always listen to your body's signals and don't push through severe pain.

    Final Thoughts

    Arthritis flare-ups can be challenging to manage, but with the right treatment and care, you can reduce their impact on your daily life. Koprez Knee Compression Sleeves for Arthritis can provide targeted support and pain relief during a flare-up. So get your pair today and take the first step towards managing your arthritis!


    Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.

    Koprez® Featured Products

    • Bundles
    • Other Products

    Koprez® Related Stories & Highlights

    What Our Customers Think