Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares: An Introduction

Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares: An Introduction


(upbeat music) – When I think about flares in someone with rheumatoid arthritis, I think about increased inflammation and
increased disease activity. Which means if you live
with a chronic disease, there’s a baseline that you are very comfortable living with. You may have symptoms that you know how to deal with on a daily basis. Flare indicates that those symptoms are getting worse and that you are experiencing more
expression of the disease. Flare is also very interesting in how as physicians I look at the symptoms of flare, or how a patient with rheumatoid arthritis may experience the symptoms of flare. An example of that is when you come to my clinic and you say, “Dr. Haque I’m having a flare”. I’m thinking about
swollen, painful joints. But there’s a lot more that you as a patient may be experiencing. We now know through research with our patient research partners, that patients are often struggling with increased fatigue,
increased stiffness in their joints. They may not be sleeping well. They may actually be very emotional about the symptoms that
they are dealing with. They may find it very difficult to do things that they
could easily do before. For example, preparing
a meal may be different during a flare than when
you are not in a flare. Flare is definitely an
increased expression of your disease or increased
activity of your disease. But as rheumatologists we are trying to better understand
what all it encompasses. The other thing that’s
important to remember is that not every flare is going to be exactly the same. Our patients can experience
flare across a spectrum from very mild to very severe. Mild may mean that they
have increased stiffness, a little bit of fatigue, but they can self manage that. A very severe flare may involve several painful swollen joints, severe fatigue, flu-like symptoms. Really a person who cannot live the life that they were living before this flare. For a severe flare we often have to intervene with a medication whereas for mild flares patients can often self manage it. I think it may be hard for patients to predict when a mild flare will go on to become a more severe flare and at what time should they reach out to their rheumatologist. I would say at any point when you are uncomfortable with the flare, it is absolutely reasonable to reach out to your rheumatologist. Because part of what we want to do is to help you not only
manage your flares, but also to educate you about how to deal with living
with this chronic disease. (soft music)

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