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

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

    In this article, we will delve into these aspects to better equip you in managing arthritis flare-ups.

    june 19, 2023   |    4 Mins Read

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Living with arthritis can be challenging, especially when flare-ups occur. Being aware of the symptoms, triggers, and duration of arthritis flare-ups, as well as adopting coping strategies, can help improve your quality of life. 


    What Does An Arthritis Flare 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: Pain is a hallmark symptom of arthritis, and during a flare, it can become more intense and widespread. The affected joints may feel achy, tender, and sensitive to touch. The pain can make it difficult to perform daily activities and may even disrupt sleep.
    • Swelling: Inflammation is a key feature of arthritis, and during a flare, the joints may become noticeably swollen. The swelling is caused by an increased amount of fluid and immune cells accumulating in the joint space. Swollen joints can feel warm to the touch and appear red or puffy.
    • Stiffness: Joint stiffness is a common complaint during an arthritis flare. The affected joints may feel stiff and difficult to move, especially after periods of rest or in the morning. This stiffness can limit mobility and make it challenging to perform tasks that require joint flexibility.
    • Fatigue: It can range from mild tiredness to extreme exhaustion. The body's heightened immune response and the constant pain and discomfort can drain energy levels, making it challenging to engage in daily activities.
    • Reduced Range of Motion: Arthritis flares can restrict the range of motion in affected joints. The joints may feel more rigid and less flexible, making it harder to perform tasks that require bending, lifting, or reaching.
    • Mental Fogginess: Many people with arthritis report experiencing mental fogginess or difficulty concentrating during flares. This symptom, often referred to as "brain fog," can make it harder to focus, remember things, or process information. It may be linked to the inflammation affecting the central nervous system.

    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 can be triggered by various factors. While the exact cause of osteoarthritis is not fully understood, certain triggers can exacerbate symptoms and lead to flare-ups. Here are some common triggers:

    • Overuse or Excessive Activities
    • Cold Weather
    • Infection or Joint Injury
    • Stress
    • Weight Gain

    Understanding personal triggers and avoiding or managing them can help in reducing 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?

    The duration of an arthritis flare-up can vary significantly depending on the type of arthritis, the individual's overall health, and how quickly treatment is initiated. However, on average, a flare-up tend to stick around for about three to five days. Rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups tend to be more prolonged compared to other types of arthritis. 


    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 to do prevent inflammation and arthritis flars: 

    • 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 to 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

    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 on the body to promote pain relief and reduce inflammation.


    Should You Walk During an Arthritis Flare Up?

    Low-impact exercise like walking can be beneficial for managing arthritis symptoms, as it helps maintain joint mobility and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. However, during a flare-up, when your joints are particularly inflamed and painful, you might need to adjust your routine. Some people may find gentle walking manageable and even helpful, while others might find it exacerbates their symptoms. 

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


    Best Knee Sleeves for Arthritis Flare Ups

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    Koprez® Knee Compression Sleeve
    $79.99$39.99

    Koprez knee sleeves have gained a reputation as one of the best options for managing arthritis flare-ups for several reasons:

    • Anti-Slip Design: Nothing is more annoying than having to constantly adjust a knee sleeve. Koprez's anti-slip feature ensures that the sleeve stays securely in place, allowing you to move freely without the worry of it sliding down.
    • Targeted Compression Zones: The design of the Koprez knee sleeves includes targeted compression zones that focus on the areas that need support the most. This helps in relieving pain and reducing inflammation effectively.
    • Medical Graduated Compression: What makes Koprez stand out is its medical graduated compression. This means the compression is highest at certain points and gradually decreases, which helps to improve blood circulation, reduce swelling, and provide the right amount of support where it's needed.
    • Moisture-Wicking Material: Sweat and moisture can cause discomfort and even skin issues. The moisture-wicking material of Koprez knee sleeves ensures that sweat is drawn away from the skin, keeping your knees dry and comfortable.


    Takeaway

    Coping with arthritis flares requires a combination of proactive strategies and support. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, incorporating the mentioned tips can help manage flare-ups and improve overall well-being.


    Among these strategies, the use of knee compression sleeves, such as Koprez Compression Sleeves, can provide valuable support during arthritis flare-ups. These sleeves offer targeted compression, helping to reduce pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness. By providing stability and improving blood circulation, knee compression sleeves can enhance comfort and mobility, allowing individuals to better navigate their day-to-day activities. Shop the Koprez Compression Sleeve today!

    References

    • HealthMatch Staff. (2022). What You Need To Know About Osteoarthritis Flare-Ups. Retrieved from https://healthmatch.io/osteoarthritis/how-long-does-an-osteoarthritis-flare-up-last
    • Summit Orthopedics. What Is an Arthritis Flare-Up? Retrieved from https://www.summitortho.com/2021/04/07/what-is-an-arthritis-flare-up/

    Author

    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.


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