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How do you cope with flares?

Axial spondyloarthritis can bring great pain and flares in moments without sudden warning. From the community we have heard from many people who bring different approaches to their health and needs when symptoms flare. We're interested in starting a large discussion: how do you cope with flares? Some questions to consider:


  • What things or practices help you feel better?

  • Do you more often move through flares, or give yourself the space to rest and recovery?

  • When flaring, do you have a "cozy cave," or place where you can find comfort?

  1. Thanks for this convo! God, flare-up coping skills change so much flare to flare. Sometimes I need to move a lot because staying still feels like a death sentence, and sometimes I need to sleep because my brain is totally fogged and just walking to the fridge feels like torture. It's weird. My body has gotten good at informing me, and I can tell when I need to work through it and when I need to give myself up to the gods of flare-ups and just sit the hell down. Cozy means ASMR videos, candles, tea, and heating pads. Movement means walks through the garden and light stretching/yoga/dancing.

    1. Love this, @LisaMarieBasile - Warmly, Rebecca

    2. Beautiful article. Thank you for sharing. I agree so much with some flares need complete rest like a warm bubble bath with epsom salt, or just lay in bed and watch netflix... And now learning slowly that some flares do need movement like just to move around the house, or a small walk around the block. It's all a learning process on what works and what doesn't. I have never heard of the polar ice machine. I would have to look into it. Thank you for sharing.

      Sending best wishes in your way- Nicky

  2. Rest and recovery are essential for me. If I try to push through, I don't get better at all. It runs me down even more and makes the flare last longer. I have learned to stop, rest, & recover. If the flare is not getting better after a day or two, I grab the meds in my cabinet. I'm extremely cautious when it comes to pharmaceuticals and try not to grab them as first-line treatment, but are a necessity for extended pain and fatigue.

    I usually retreat to my bedroom, where it is dark and cozy. Resting in my adjustable bed, taking pressure off the painful areas, I can grab the portable workstation I have set up, and log some hours. Or just sleep. I can also grab my therapeutic tools stored in a box below. My massager is the most used tool I reach for - it helps with the spasms and pain associated with my SpA symptoms.


    When I flare, the pain hits all at once and my energy decreases about 90%. I need to rest immediately. Before lying down, I grab my many ice packs stored in the freezer and apply them to the areas of pain that are flaring as I rest - mostly the worst in my lower back/pelvis and neck. Heat inflames me more, so I grab ice. I also purchased a Polar Ice Machine for one of my surgeries and it is amazing. It cycles ice-cold water through the machine and pad and stays colder for much longer than my ice packs applied with Velcro straps.

    Hope this helps - Best of wellness to you all! Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing! I agree with you: some flares really do require pure rest and not just pushing through. Really, it's non-optional when energy tanks so badly.


      I also am not a fan of meds as first-line treatment, but I do keep Advil handy when things get horrible. Does movement/stretching help at all when you're in pain?

      Also, the polar ice machine sounds so smart. What a great idea. Do you find the cold helps more than heat? Thanks for sharing — and hoping you're feeling ok.


      - Lisa, AS team member

    2. I used to think ice worked better for me on sore joints and aching muscles. But with the last surgery on my thoracic spine, when I used ice, my shoulders and neck would lock up and the pain was excruciating for a few days. I purchased a full back heating pad and massager, and it helped much better. I was able to move easier with less pain.


      Also, showers before bed have helped me relax enough to the point where I fall asleep easier upon lying down. I used to toss and turn and ache so very much when going to sleep at night - and be up most of the night - so I am leaning toward hot steamy showers to aid in sleep.


      Hope this helps and wish only relaxation and relief for you and all who tackle AS/AxSpA's debilitating symptoms.

  3. For me, rest and heat is a must! I don't push myself to do anything that will spend my energy! I will make sure to do light stretches a few times throughout the day to try and release some tension in my body. I will cancel any plans that I had made and I will try my best to relax.


    I will constantly have my heating pads or hot water bottle, and I will have a warm bath!


    I make sure to take my pain meds even if I feel like they aren't working, they probably are helping a little. (I talk to my doctor first with this and make a plan of when to take my tablets and how I should know, so always talk to your doctor first).


    And, even though I find it hard, I ask for help. I need the help and usually someone is happy to help.

    1. I'm so glad you mentioned asking for help. It's so important to know when and how to ask. It's something I've had to get used to too, especially as an independent person by nature. It's a great reminder.


      Stretching also really helps me throughout the day, too, as I rest. What sorts of moves/stretches do you use? I usually work through something on YouTube. Thanks and hope you're doing ok!


      - Lisa, AS team member.

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