At times you may go through a period where your pain is worse, or more intense. This is called a ‘flare’ or ‘flare-up’.
We don’t always know what causes a flare – they can sometimes appear for no reason. Other times a flare may happen because you’ve been more active than usual, or you’ve pushed yourself way past your usual activity levels. For example, you went for a 5km walk when you normally only do 2kms, or you spring-cleaned your entire house from top to bottom.
A flare may also occur when you change some medications. This may be as a result of stopping one and starting another or changing the dose.
Flares are temporary, but can be frustrating and painful while they last. So it’s important that you have a plan for how you manage a flare when it happens.
Your flare plan
- Write down what you were doing before the flare. This can help you identify if there was something you did that triggered the flare. If there was a trigger, hopefully you can avoid repeating it.
- Pace yourself. If the flare is the result of overdoing things, think about getting people to help you, or spread the activity over a greater period of time, e.g. if you want to spring-clean your home, get the family involved and give each person a room or zone that they’re responsible for; or spread the job over a few weekends and assign yourself a room, a zone or a period of time to clean that’s achievable for you. When you’ve cleaned that area, or reached that time limit, stop. You can go back to it later.
- Prioritise your tasks and activities. This can also reduce the risk of overdoing things.
- Manage your stress, it can increase your pain levels. Many of the techniques in this guide can help you manage when you’re feeling stressed including: relaxation techniques, meditation, breathing exercises and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes to your medication (e.g. changing the dosage or stopping).
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