Living with Chronic Pain

Tips for Avoiding Flare-up Pain


A flare-up is a term used to describe periods of pain followed by periods of remission in which no pain or a lesser amount of pain occurs. While some people experience the same amount of pain daily, other’s may experience a flare-up pain that only occurs once in awhile or becomes worse for a period and then returns to normal. 

Flare-ups can last anywhere from only a few hours or days to a few weeks. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Most of the time, flare-ups will occur quickly with not a lot of warning. Other times, a flare-up may occur when the person does something to provoke the pain, like exercise too intensely accidently. 

Resting is a good way to treat a flare-up, although sometimes even rest is not enough to eliminate the pain. Some people may find that doing a small amount of moving around may help the pain by loosening up the body. If you can tolerate it, try moving around by going for a walk or cleaning the house, or doing some stretches to cope with the pain. Do not rely solely on over-the-counter pain medications to get you through this difficult time. Take the time to develop a plan to address flare-ups as they may occur again in the future.

Here are some helpful tips: 

Tip 1: Determine when a flare-up happens and what triggers, if any, may have provoked them. This can help you avoid them in the future. 
  • Tip 2: Stay calm. Getting worked up over a potential flare-up will tighten all the muscles in the body and make the pain worse. Focus your thoughts on the fact that a flare-up will not last forever and it should pass within a few days. 
  • Tip 3: Practice doing stress-relieving techniques to the best of your ability. If the pain prevents you from exercising, try doing breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques. Meditation may also help. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones or talk to a therapist about options. 
  • Tip 4: Make yourself as comfortable as possible. This may include using heat or ice therapy and massaging the affected area.
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