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If you suffer with chronic pain, there’ll be times when your pain becomes more severe, or you have a “flare-up”. It’s normal for your pain to vary, of course, but a flare-up can feel especially intense and it can be quite debilitating.

During a flare-up, you might find it difficult to move around, sleep, or concentrate on your usual everyday tasks. Sometimes you know what causes it – overexerting yourself when you’re having a good day, for example, and then “paying for it” later. Other times, it seems to come out of the blue and brings your week screeching to halt. It’s no wonder, then, that flare-ups often leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, depressed and overwhelmed.

Managing a flare-up

Unfortunately, flare-ups are a fact of life for chronic pain sufferers. We can’t get rid of them altogether, but the good news is that there are ways to manage flare-ups and minimise the effect they have on your life.

Prevention is often better than cure, so try to identify your flare-up triggers. Did you do anything new or different in the three days before? Have you changed your diet? Have you tried a new exercise? Been unusually stressed? Has the weather changed?

As well as noting the things that may be triggering your flare-ups, think about any early warning signs. Did you notice you were sleeping more in the run-up to a pain flare? Were you feeling emotional? Craving certain foods? Getting twinges in your back?

When you know your triggers, you can try to avoid them and reduce the frequency and severity of your flare-ups. And when you know how to spot a flare-up approaching, you can take steps to minimise the impact it has on your health and mood.

Tips to reduce flare-up pain

Exercise might be the last thing on your mind during a flare-up, but the NHS stresses that keeping active is crucial for managing pain. It may be tempting to take to your bed until it passes, but try to keep moving with gentle activities like?

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • A gentle bike ride or exercise bike

  • Yoga or Pilates

  • Dance

  • Cleaning

  • Gardening

If you don’t feel up to exercising or leaving the house, try to do some gentle stretches at home. It’s really important you keep moving, even when you feel you don’t want to.

In addition to exercise, there are other things you can do to help with your flare-up pain.

Eat a healthy diet. Regular nutritious meals will help to keep your body strong. If may be tempting to reach for comfort food when you’re feeling low, but it’ll make you feel worse in the long run. Plan for harder days by making some meals in advance and keep them in the freezer for when you’re too tired to cook.

Plan your days. If you know that certain weather conditions trigger your pain, then use the Weather Flare app to plan your week. You can see which days are best to go outside or run errands, and which days you need to stay home and step up the self-care.

Meditate. Practising mindfulness can be really helpful for managing pain and taking your mind off a flare-up. This guided meditation is recommended by the NHS and is proven to help people cope with chronic pain.

Use heat. Warm showers or baths, heat pads, and hot water bottles can help to ease aching muscles and joints.

The Weather Flare app is especially designed to help people with chronic health conditions including pain. Download it today on iOS and Android and see how it can help you. We’re currently in the beta testing phase of the app, and would love your feedback so we can make it as helpful as possible.

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