Good Morning Fellow Warriors!
Approximately one year ago, I was diagnosed with PMR. I have learned so much that I want to share with you. I gain more understanding of this elusive condition every day, but I feel that now I am somewhat in rhythm with PMR after a year.
PMR is like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Like the tide, sometimes days are calm and pain-free while others are tumultuous and harsh.
Like the storms we see rolling in from the sea, PMR flares can ruin our day and cause disruption.
Some people ask what a flare is and what causes them. I will try to outline what I know, but everyone is slightly different in their response to certain triggers and PMR. Some may even be lucky enough to get through the course of PMR without a flare.
What is a Flare?
A PMR flare is a sudden worsening of your symptoms. The increased pain and stiffness of a flare can be from many triggers however at times, it may be hard to figure out what exactly was the cause.
By carefully watching and analyzing your periods of escalated discomfort and immobility, you may be able to help decrease flares by eliminating certain (avoidable) triggers. I actually keep a PMR journal of what I eat, my meds and supplements, and how my day goes to help track the course of my PMR.
What Can Trigger a Flare?
Flares can be triggered by:
- overexertion- too much exercise, strenuous work, or lack of rest and relaxation
- viruses and illness
- some sources attribute specific vaccines to flares
- certain foods such as sugar, grains, inflammatory foods, alcohol, and processed foods have been attributed to flares when used in excess
- emotional stress
- certain weather- mine is rain or very cold
- injury or surgery
I recently got over a small flare. The other day while walking outside on an errand, my ankle turned over, and I dropped down hard on all fours. After a stunned minute of shooting pain in my arms, knees, and legs, I realized that I was OK and was able to gingerly get up and carry on. I did not even tell anyone what happened and did not think much more about it.
The next day was a different story. I had PAIN and stiffness everywhere!
I had to "fess-up" to my family that I had fallen as it was undeniable that I was walking like the tin-man and could not function well that day. The flare lasted for about 4-5 days and then faded. I tried to rest as much as I could, took some Tylenol for pain which really helped, and generally took it easy until I felt better.
What to Do About Flares?
After discussing your flare with your doctor, you may be directed to do the following to help ease the increased pain and stiffness:
- REST as much as possible. Relax every muscle in your body as you rest.
- Take Tylenol as directed.
- Watch what you eat and drink. Eat as healthy as you can and avoid trigger foods.
- Apply heat or cold (whichever works for you). I love my neck and shoulder heating pad.
- If your flare does not go away on its own after a few days, consult with your doctor to see if you can increase your Prednisone slightly for a few days and then taper back down quickly to your previous dose. This strategy (outlined by my physician) worked well for me after a pretty substantial flare after my Covid vaccine.
I found a great article on flares for Rheumatoid Arthritis that seems to fit the PMR scenario very well. The article does say to use an NSAID like Ibuprofen which my doctor warned me NOT to take. So it is best to ask your provider for medication advice.
Here it is: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Anatomy of a Flare
I hope that you have a pain-free day!