A toolbox with a medical cross on the side and tools spilling out of it.

Build Your Own Flare Toolkit

There's no other way to say it: axial spondyloarthritis flare-ups are the worst. You might be having a good few days, and then seemingly out of nowhere, your muscles and joints start to ache, you start to feel incredibly fatigued, and all of your plans go out the window.

We have heard from our community members that it can be good to have a plan in place for these moments. In fact, our Community Advocate Julie wrote an article titled "I Get Less Flares, and I'm Ready For Them" discussing just that! Some have even gone so far as to create flare "toolkits," so that they have all of their go-to items and strategies in one place. We invite you to use the information below to create your own toolkit. Maybe your toolkit is just a list of things that you'll use, or maybe you could even find a pretty basket and place all of your flare tools there for easy access.

Please note that you should only use what works for you, and these are by no means recommendations, but just a list of things that may help you. Please talk with your healthcare team before beginning a new medication, product, or seeing a new wellness provider.

What’s in your flare toolkit? Share a photo with the community!

Pick one or a few from each category, and get prepping!

Pain management tools

  • A source of heat, which can be an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, microwavable rice-filled heating pocket, infrared heating pad, or adhesive heat pack
  • Acupressure mat
  • Epsom salts to pour in a hot bath
  • TENS unit
  • Salonpas pads
  • Pain relief cream, like TigerBalm
  • Self-massage tool
  • Neck stretcher
  • An ice pack

Comfort items

  • A super soft blanket
  • A back supporter
  • A soft pillow
  • Your pet
  • A bath pillow or cushioned bath mat
  • A body pillow
  • A neck pillow
  • Electric blanket

Wellness providers

Medicines and supplements

  • NSAIDS or Tylenol/paracetamol
  • Other pain medication from your doctor
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • CBD ointment or oil
  • Medical marijuana
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3's

To pass the time

  • Your favorite podcasts
  • Adult coloring books (if it feels ok to hold a pencil
  • Streaming channels
  • ASMR videos
  • A meditation app

Movement

  • Gentle stretching
  • A slow walk
  • A dip in a hot tub or pool
  • Foam rolling

Assistive tools

  • A grab stick
  • A cane or walker
  • A shower chair
  • Raised toilet cushion

Mindset tools

  • A journal
  • Your favorite chronic illness blog
  • A nice smelling candle
  • Rest, rest, and more rest!

These are just some ideas of what you can put into your flare toolkit. Everyone's experience with AxSpA is different, and what works for some may not work for others. We invite you to try things that you haven't tried before and to experiment with new tools and products.

All in all, remember to be kind to yourself. Living with chronic illness is overwhelming and exhausting, and going through a flare-up is not easy. It can be helpful to ask yourself, "Would I say this to my best friend?" Be compassionate, and be caring to yourself.

Let us know what would be in your flare toolkit in the comments!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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