08:20 AM

Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain and Flare-Ups: What to Know and Do

CreakyJoints reports on the causes rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain and how to manage it according to experts including HSS rheumatologist Elizabeth Schulman, MD.

“Inflammation is the root cause of RA pain,” said Dr. Schulman. “The joint lining can get inflamed, thickened, and irritated, which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints.” If RA patients have low levels of inflammation and few swollen joints but are still experiencing pain, this could indicate the presence of co-occurring conditions that can be common among RA patients, such as fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis. Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety may also play a role, she added. 

Dr. Schulman explained RA pain is a symptom of an RA flare. “RA pain would be part of the evaluation that a rheumatologist would do to determine if a patient is having a flare.” It’s not uncommon for an RA patient who is on medication and in low disease activity or remission to have one or two RA flares per year. However, if you find yourself getting flares that don’t resolve or come back often, this may mean that your medications are no longer working as well as they should, noted Dr. Schulman. This may mean it is time to discuss a medication change with your doctor.

A goal of RA treatment is for you to achieve a state of complete remission from RA, which means no stiffness, swelling, or systemic inflammation — and little to no pain, said Dr. Schulman. “Yet even if remission isn’t possible for you, you can still work with your doctor to achieve low disease activity and fewer bouts of pain.”

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.