What to do When Experiencing a Flare-Up

It’s not about if; it’s about when.

 
If you have ever experienced a big pain flare once in your life, odds are that you will experience one again.
Having a plan to guide you when that time comes is crucial. It may sound reasonable that you can walk yourself through a flare up well without a plan, but when you’re in extreme pain it can become very challenging to control your thoughts and emotions.
 
Therefore, set up a plan now with your therapist that will prepare you for success when the time comes.
 
Also, it is important to understand that having a pain flare doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong, sometimes that is just how life goes.
 
What matters is not why the flare occurred, but how you are able to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behavior during the heat of the moment.
Experiencing pain from time to time is one of the things that makes us human. Many people that live without pain daily take it for granted. They may experience a small flare up, but likely that flare up will resolve back to baseline.
 
When your baseline is ZERO, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like with anything different. Now, take for instance someone who experiences persistent symptoms. Their nervous system has adapted to become more vulnerable to flare ups. Some of these flare ups can be triggered by physical, emotional, and/or social stressors and the thoughts attached with them.
 
Because symptoms have become chronic, that individual may experience a new baseline greater than zero, meaning that symptoms may always be present. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with them or that they are broken, it just means that their mind and body is adapting to a new tolerance.
 
Although that baseline may never get to zero, it’s important to understand the certain triggers that can lead to a flare up and have strategies in place to make that flare up more workable. Although that baseline may never return to zero, finding out how to continue participating in meaningful activities with tolerable symptoms can be accomplished.
 
It’s also important to recognize that many flare ups are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean they need to take control of your life. With enough time, patience, and commitment, people with persistent symptoms can learn how to manage these flare ups much more efficiently to stay engaged with what they value.
Cameron Faller

Cameron Faller

Clinic Director

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