With chronic pain, flares are a normal part of life. They are my nervous system throwing out emergency signals to protect me from a perceived threat. I’ve appreciated learning about this because they can be scary if you don’t know about chronic pain and what’s going on. It can be certain thoughts or emotions, like fear or stress, life changes, or overdoing that triggers it.
Sometimes I can recognize what’s going on and catch it early. One time at chair yoga I had chosen to try the standing exercises for 5 minutes.By the time I walked out to the car my I was having a panicky feeling and my pain was rising. I think my knee was a little fatigued, but mainly my brain was like, “Alert! Alert!” I tuned into what was going on, talked about it with my friend I went to yoga with and was able to relax and bring it down when I got home with a heat pack and some relaxation.
Other times I’m struck by it when it’s in full force. I was in Hawaii over the holidays and I’d had high pain the whole time. We were at the volcano national park and it was rainy and cold and while others were hiking, I was in the wheelchair. Someone mentioned dinner at the park hotel, and I looked at the clock. It was only 10 am. I knew it was going to be a long day and BOOM- flare time. I stayed in the car for the next few outings and calmed myself down. I didn’t have any of my external relaxation tools with me, but I was able to warm up in the car, tune into what was going on, and do some meditation and breathing.
It’s nice to have a ready flare plan in place because thinking goes out the window. For me, my best way of dealing with flares is to go lie down if I can or just go be alone. I do some breathing and body scans to tune into what’s going on and identify what’s triggering me. What really helps me are doing some guided deep relaxations. I also usually put a heat pack on my knee. A hot bath can be good too.
I think I’m getting better at recognizing flares and hopefully can get better at preventing them.