There’s nothing worse than a pain that just won’t go away. Pain can flare up from time to time, and there is perhaps no better example of this than of what’s called an arthritis flare-up. We’ve all heard older adults say things such as “Oh, my knees are bugging me today”, or, “I’m having a ‘bad knee day”. These are all common things that osteoarthritis sufferers say when they are having a bad flare-up moment. If this is something that hits close to home for you, keep reading for more information on the topic of knee osteoarthritis and how to deal with the flare-ups.
What is Knee Osteoarthritis?
Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition (like all manifestations of arthritis) and, in this case, often impacts the knees. As the cartilage, tissues and joints all start to become weaker and more susceptible to injury over time, the knee will start to feel different. Common signs of arthritis in the knee include stiffness when getting out of bed in the morning, dull pain or hot prickling pain if you bump your knee against something.
These important joints also become much more likely to deal with flare-ups over time. A flare-up is a sudden worsening of your arthritis symptoms. Sometimes it can be a subtle flare-up where you deal with a bit more stiffness or pain, but a lot of times, it can be a big flare-up with a significant increase in pain and stiffness to the point of being uncomfortable or even unmanageable without some sort of treatment.
Common Causes for Flare-ups
Flare-ups can happen for a lot of reasons and can either manifest as knee swelling or stiffness that is often accompanied with more pain (either the dull, daily kind or the hot prickly kind that brings heat along with it). There are some common causes for flare-ups to occur, including:
- Physical stress to the area: If you are going up and down the stairs, for example, or going form sitting down to standing up repetitively, you’ll find that you could be dealing with a flare-up. Stress or a lot of use of your knee joint will cause the pain to worsen until you stop doing it (i.e.: you give your joints some rest).
- Cold and damp weather: Ever hear someone say “There’s a storm coming, I can feel it my bones.”? No, it’s not just a myth. A sudden drop in temperature (such as when a storm is about to hit) has been known to affect many arthritis sufferers. Joints often stiffen up in the cold weather, and it can feel like a deep ache.
- Weight gain: If you increase your weight, you are putting more pressure on your joints. This will, in turn, make your pain flare up more often. Putting extra weight on can also make the condition worsen much faster than it would otherwise. It’s not always easy, but try to keep your weight at a manageable level.
- Illness: Most people fill “achey” when they get sick, especially if they have the flu. Your body gets tired and in turn, all the little aches and pains you have tend to feel even worse. This is also the case with knee arthritis.
- Certain diet changes: While there is some argument on this, it’s often thought that sugar, caffeine, and red meat can make osteoarthritis worse. If you are dealing with a flare-up, avoiding these ingredients and foods may be something to consider. If you are going through a considerable flare-up, think back to what you’ve been eating to see if there is a pattern from flare-up to flare-up.
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How to Deal with Flare-ups
Some of the best options for treatment for dealing with a flare-up include:
- Watch for your triggers: Over time, you’ll start to get a sense of what makes your arthritis flare up. Log everything in a journal whenever you do have a flare-up (foods you were eating, weather, exercises you were doing or lack of exercising, etc.). Over time, you should be able to quickly pinpoint what caused it and avoid it as much as possible.
- Rest as much as possible: When you do deal with a flare-up, there’s no benefit to just soldiering through it. Take some “you time” and get some much-needed rest. It’s the best option for making sure that you allow it to heal and bring you back to normal faster.
- Alternate between heat and cold packs: Some find cold to be extremely helpful (since it helps to dull the pain), while others find that heat can offer the best relief. The best thing to do is to alternate between them until you find the right blend.
- Keep yourself busy (mentally): The worst thing that you can do is sit and think about how much pain that you’re in. Watch an interesting movie or read a good book. Take up a new hobby that can keep you busy. You’ll hardly notice your pain at all. It also helps the time go by, too.
- Reach out to your doctor: If you are dealing with a lot of flare-ups or have a lot of swelling, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor and see if they can help you with pain medications or even just a physical examination. This is especially important if you seem to be getting a lot of flare-ups that are particularly painful and interruptive to your life and daily routine.
Flare-ups are going to happen if you have knee osteoarthritis, but knowing why they occur and what to do about them will also make sure that you are properly prepared mentally, emotionally and physically to make the most out of it and get back to your day to day life sooner rather than later. If you have any experience or thoughts on the subject, we’d love to hear from you. Just use the comment box below! Until next time.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO KNEE ARTHRITIS:
Can a Knee Brace For Osteoarthritis Really Help?
The Four Stages of Knee Arthritis and Some Ways To Get Relief