Flares action plan

Living with inflammatory arthritis can be unpredictable. Even with treatment, there may be times when your symptoms flare. Use this action plan to discuss and plan the best way to manage flares with your rheumatology team. This action plan is for people with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis (also called axial spondyloarthritis).

About flares

Flares are times when your disease is more active, causing more inflammation. A flare can last from a few days to weeks.

Signs of a flare

  • More severe joint pain, stiffness and/or swelling than usual
  • Difficulty doing the things you need to do, including personal care, work and family life
  • Feeling very tired and finding it hard to sleep at night because of pain
  • Possibly a fever, body aches and/or feeling unwell
  • Usual treatments aren’t keeping your symptoms under control
  • Feeling frustrated, upset and withdrawing from people

Causes of a flare

Flares can happen at any time, with little or no warning and without an obvious cause. Sometimes flares can be triggered by:

  • doing too much, getting run down or pushing yourself beyond your limits
  • emotional stress
  • infections or illnesses
  • missing, skipping or taking the wrong dose of medicines
  • changes to your treatment, including switching to a different medicine or reducing the dose of your medicine
This Flares Action Plan has been developed with NPS MedicineWise and seven other organisations representing specialists, pharmacists, consumers and research experts, which form the Targeted Therapies Alliance. The Alliance provides stewardship and direction about the safe and wise use of biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) and other specialised medicines. Additional inflammatory arthritis resources for consumers can be found here: https://www.nps.org.au/bdmards/rheumatology/consumers#consumers Last reviewed October 2022.