What causes arthritis flare-ups?

what causes arthritis flare ups

Are arthritis flare-ups causing you pain and discomfort? To find an effective remedy, it is important to understand what is triggering your flare-ups. Flare-ups can have many causes ranging from injuries to lifestyle changes. Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the affected joints. As such, flare-ups tend to increase pain and swelling in these areas. Other symptoms, including stiffness and tenderness, can also appear. Understanding what causes your arthritis flare-ups can help you find effective targeted treatment.

If you or someone you know has arthritis, you have probably noticed it is not a static condition. You may feel only mild symptoms one day, then notice more severe irritation the next day. The times when arthritis symptoms are more intense are called flare-ups. If you are looking for a way to manage your flare-ups, physical therapy is an excellent option. Physical therapists can offer an array of tailored treatments designed to address whatever is causing your arthritis flare-ups.

Potential causes behind your arthritis flare-ups


  • Weather changes — Have you noticed your symptoms changing with the weather? This is actually a fairly common phenomenon. Changes in humidity or air pressure can lead to subtle changes in your body that may cause more joint irritation. To manage arthritis flare-ups caused by weather changes, you can use specialized physical therapy pain relief techniques. Your physical therapist can help advise you on some of the best strategies for managing flare-ups caused by factors outside your control.

  • Excessive activity — Exercise is often healthy. However, exercising too much when you have arthritis can lead to more intense symptoms. To prevent flare-ups caused by excessive activity, try to avoid activities that put a lot of strain on the areas of your body affected by arthritis. If you have arthritis in your knees, for example, avoid running and jumping for extended periods of time. Resting between intense physical activities can help reduce the risk of a flare-up. It is also important to remember that excessive activity is not always related to traditional athletic activities. Simple tasks like repetitive household chores can also take a toll on your joints. For people with arthritis in their hands, spending too much time typing can cause more joint pain and swelling. Your physical therapist can recommend activity modifications to help you reduce flare-ups while staying active.

  • Diet — The foods you eat can have a major impact on your overall well-being. When you have arthritis, it is important to avoid foods that can cause inflammation. These foods can make your symptoms worse, causing flare-ups. Highly processed items and sugary snacks are some of the main offenders. For many people with arthritis, dairy products also have a negative effect. By avoiding foods and drinks that worsen your condition, you can reduce your risk of a flare-up. Replacing these items with healthy anti-inflammatory alternatives can help improve your quality of life.

  • Insufficient rest — Not getting enough rest? Arthritis often makes getting rest more challenging. If your symptoms get more intense at night, it can feel difficult to get any sleep. That being said, getting rest is essential for managing arthritis symptoms. By resting your joints, you can help reduce inflammation and pain. Your physical therapist can help you apply management techniques to make getting rest easier. Arthritis symptoms sometimes get worse while resting due to posture. With physical therapy, you can learn how to keep pressure off the areas affected by arthritis while you sleep.

  • Stress — Mental stress can directly influence your physical condition. If you are feeling stressed out, it can make your arthritis symptoms worse. One factor behind this is the increased physical tension that often accompanies stress. Tension can put more pressure on your joints, making them more irritated. Physical therapy can help you manage your stress and your arthritis symptoms, boosting your mental and physical health.

  • Illness — Have you gotten sick recently? If so, your illness could be playing a role in causing your arthritis flare-ups. Common illnesses like the flu can diminish your body’s capacity to do a lot of things. One function it can affect is your body’s natural pain relief processes. With physical therapy, you can get expert help with symptom management as you work to recover from your sickness.

Whatcom Physical Therapy can help you manage your arthritis symptoms

Ready to manage your arthritis with physical therapy? At Whatcom Physical Therapy, our team offers a range of arthritis treatment options. We work with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan, tailoring your PT experience to your needs.

Call us or request an appointment today to find out what could be causing your arthritis flare-ups and receive treatment.