How I Manage My Symptoms When I am Flaring
Whenever we're in the midst of a flare up, we try everything and anything to help manage our symptoms. Each of us has our own set of triggers that set a flare into motion. There really isn't one set way to help support our bodies since we're all so different. But, after managing my own flares extensively, here are 5 ways I've learned that help me manage my personal psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Below are a few of the things that I do to keep myself feeling as good. I feel obliged to say that these are in no way a statement of scientific fact and I urge you to work closely with your doctor prior to making any changes to your diet, exercise, and treatment plan.
A Strict Diet
Keeping a strict diet is essential for the management of my psoriatic arthritis. I follow a vegan paleo diet (with the occasional seafood) and I personally see a tremendous effect on my symptoms by maintaining this diet. But, I'm human, and sometimes I do indulge in foods that are not good for me.
I always steer clear of grains, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, meats, and food additives, but whenever I'm having a flare up I always make sure to focus on only fruits and vegetables and steer clear of sugar, caffeine, and wine. I see this has a tremendous impact on the way I get over a flare and allows me to get back to feeling better more quickly.
Each of us have different food triggers, therefore you may see different results with food. I do suggest people doing an elimination diet, because completing an elimination diet allows you to identify your specific triggers so you know which foods to steer clear of or to pile up on whenever you're not feeling well.
Whenever I'm having a flare, I consciously try to stay as calm as possible. Easier said than done, right?
Staying calm can be very hard when you are having a lot of pain and are in the midst of a flare up. But, it is very important to try to stay as relaxed as possible. By promoting relaxation in your body, you can help it slow down and promote healing.
Ice Packs And/Or Heating Pads
Depending on how my joints are feeling, I may reach for ice or heat.
If my joints are feeling stiff and need some help getting moving, my heating pad is my go to. The heat helps bring blood flow to the area and can help get me up and operational. For example, sometimes my hands will be extremely painful and stiff when I wake up. I combat this by wrapping them up in my heating pad and allowing them to loosen up. After some time, I'm able to make a fist again and utilize my digits.
If my joints are feeling very swollen and hot, ice is my best friend. Sometimes my knees will swell up and bother me. In that case, I elevate, throw some ice packs on them and relax. The ice helps my inflammation and can help me manage my pain.
Get Some Movement In
In times of flare ups, we must rest. There is no negotiating that fact! But, we also have to make sure to get some movement in our days as well. If we're experiencing inflammation in our joints, the worst thing we can do is to stay stagnant. If that inflammation settles in our joints, it can cause issues like loss of range of motion.
I always make sure to try to get on my mat to do some yoga. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous and most times ends up being extremely gentle. But, by adding some movement to my day, I actually can help my pain and have an impact on flushing out my inflammation.
Yes, I make sure that I have movement at some part of my day, but the BEST thing for me when I'm in the midst of a flare is to rest. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. I find that stress is a huge trigger for me and whenever I have a flare it usually means I'm working too much or trying to juggle too many balls at one time. I cancel plans, stay home and allow myself to rest as much as possible. I find that sleeping gives my body the time it needs to address its battles and allows it get me back on my feet more quickly.
Each of us may have a completely different combat plan to managing our symptoms during a flare. I truly find that keeping a strict diet, staying calm, using ice and/or heat, moving, amping up my supplements and resting my body is the best way for me.
Any suggestions made are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes to your treatment, exercise or diet routine.