Pain management session seven

Managing flare ups

Today we talked about flare ups. The specialist physiotherapists led the session.

A flare up is significantly worse than a normal experience of pain, Unfortunately they are normal in long-term / chronic pain. 

According to the physio there are several areas of management of flare ups but today they focused on:-

  • Prevention and warning signs
  • How to manage a flare up. 

We discussed our own personal warning signs. It wasn't until recently that I recognised my warning signs which are increased pain and fatigue, nausea, feverishness and  swollen, hard painful glands. I generally feel unwell as well, similar to having a viral infection.  Having done this it has really helped me to plan the following three days which is how long my flars usually last and then two days for the recovery period. 

They talked about the fact you could end up in a "flare up pit" if you ignore the symptoms. You may feel depressed anxious and exhausted so what should you do?

The recommendations are to rest, in bed if necessary, for no more than 48 hours. This gives the body enough time to recover but prevents further de-conditioning. We talked about the pain cycle again here and how this works in chronic pain. We also went back over the boom and bust theory. 

Relaxation apps, tapes etc are useful. Increased medication if possible for pain relief and heat or cold packs for areas of more acute pain. 

What is important is to have a plan.

  • Try to recognise your warning signs.
  • Ensure you have all of your flare up equipment in one place that is easily accessible.

They recommend having a flare up box in which you put all the things you would need during a flare up. 

We had a group discussion about what we would put in the box. Some of the suggestions were:-

  • supply of medication
  • heat and cold pads. 
  • sweet treats. 
  • spare phone or tablet charger for the bedroom.
  • books, colouring books, puzzles, crosswords.
  • water bottle.
  • Essential oils, creams and massage oils

We were then set homework to organise our own flare up boxes. I'm not sure how much use this will be for me as sleep is the only thing I need during a flare up. I can't take extra meds as I'm already on max dose of my existing treatments and things like Ibuprofen don't tend to be of any additional benefit. Personally, when I have a flare up, I can't concentrate on anything like puzzles and the noise of TV is too much to bear. I tend to sleep a lot and prefer quiet but I will think about essentials for a flare up box during my next flare up.