Stress and Flares

Hi Guys... I keep stumbling across the relationship between stress and RA flares.

I have (or did have) a close friend that I have had a pretty major falling out with, and overnight I woke up with my left knee screaming at me and flaring. It is the worst I have felt for a while, but it was really a great reminder to try to control my stress reaction...

If you're new to RA, just keep in mind that stress is dangerous to your joints.

64 Replies

  • Thanks Kai - But I think it would take both of us to play in that sandbox.. Right now she is just ignoring me - I told my DH (Dear Hubby) that I feel like I'm back in the fifth grade. Too much melodrama

  • I believe that extreme emotional stress was my trigger of RA

  • Hi Suzandale - I can agree with you - Mine kicked off when my mother in law fell one too many times

  • Mine started with my 73 year old father's stage 4 terminal cancer diagnosis. My undiagnosed dementia mother didn't want him to die, so kept trying to cure him. She would "drag, push and pull" him to the bus stop to visit "the miracle doctor". He collapsed many many calls from the police to to bring my dad back home... I tried to put him in hospice, but he wanted to die at home... so off to the bus stop with my insane mother he went.....

    How I survived? I will never know....I really do believe that the bizzare 2 years of crazy stress caused my RA.

  • Oh God suzannedale - I can just see your poor father going along because he loved her. I believe in natural treatments too when I can get them, but in that case I suspect I would be petitioning everyone in sight to let us have cannabis for him and just keep him comfortable. I am so sorry for both of you. My stomach was churning so much just from reading your note that I cannot imagine how it would NOT be the cause... Where is your mother now?

    Ours was hard enough, but she had her full mind until about a year before the end, and a sharp tongue to go with it.

  • So you believe the stress of your mother in law's health problems was your trigger too? The medical profession says it's hard to state stress as a trigger of RA because every human has different stress levels.

    I believe my body doesn't process stress normally. When I'm under pressure, I pull up my socks and do what I have to do. I push through it. Some people cry, I don't. I "suck it up" and move on. I really wish I could just cry and let it out.

    Yes my parents loved eachother and refused to live in the reality of impending death. It took the hospital, at my request, to start a court proceeding to obtain custody of my dad. He spent the last week of his life unconscious at the hospice.

    Today my mother spends her day believing that her husband is at the gym working out. She is on a wait list for a nursing home. I have no anger towards her. She lost her soulmate. I just wish she could see the pain she caused me, the bus driver and the bus passengers.

  • Yeah - I think that was my primary trigger... But oh my gosh - your story is so sad...

    My mother in laws comment whenever I was spending 8 - 10 hours sitting the in the ER with her complaining the whole time was "I don't care if they have other patients. I only care about me." I suspect it wouldn't matter if your mother knew or not. She is wrapped around her own life there, and I feel sorry for her too in all of this.

  • True.

    I am starting to believe that the ignoring of stress levels is the route to these diseases. Eventually the body makes you pay attention.

    Stress physical or emotional, causes me pain, moaning in the darkness, sort of pain. Pain it is difficult to measure or weigh or photograph.

    Pain that will stop me in my tracks.

    Depression? no. I rate it as bad weather, it will pass, it tells me that I must stop and encourages me to do so if i disagree.

    So that's simple, avoid stress.

    For that the gov' have the DWP, guaranteed stress.

    And on top of all of that I still have to smile and avoid snapping at people who tell me how well I look.

  • And on top of all of that I still have to smile and avoid snapping at people who tell me how well I look.

    Annoying, ain't it?

  • This is my biggest problem with RA!

    Thank you for sharing.

    I get so stressed and my condition just gets worse and worse, don't know how to stop it!

    Hope you are ok, after falling out with your friend... friendships can be so hard.

  • Thanks Izzylane. Yeah - They are pretty complex. Only my marriage and my relationship with my mother are more complex. They treat me like they love me however, so they come out as much easier...

    I'm okay. I guess I am just hugely disappointed more than anything (and of course, hurt)...

  • I too believe the tremendous stress at work was the trigger of my RA too. I was a very healthy person, I could not figure out why RA happened to me. However, about 2 to 3 years before the RA started, I faced the tremendous stress in the office from the people around, therefore I learned to fight back now. If there is any unfairness treatment, I will not just take it, I will just tell my heart and my thought and move on. Whether my boss likes it or not, that is the fact and I would not want to just accept others' nonsense and putting the stress onto myself.

  • Very well said Amy-Lee. There have always been in my offices those that will stand up for themselves, and those that get bullied. I used to try to teach my staff that bullying is wrong, and more important how to stand up for you. Nice work

  • I am a single mother hence the burden on me to support the kids solely. I tried to be very careful to make sure I survived during economy down time because my kids depend on me. Therefore I willing to accept more and I always work very much harder than many around me.

    Unfortunately in my office, my boss then push more and more to me. When others were wrong, I always would be called to see how to accommodate to suit others. Many years after that, the stress and pressure built up on me. I believe that triggered the RA on me.

    These days after I recovered, I realize I should not continue to be bullied hence I just bounce back each time similar situation happen. Surprisingly the situation becomes better and my boss seems to listen to me and not so pushy as before.

    One thing I like to highlight here is she did her part providing me with soft food for lunch almost everyday for many months during my very difficult period when my jaws were in great pain during eating. I am not sure if that was her realization or just out of her good heart. She being she, after I was well again, similar stress from her again and I fight back. It works. :D

  • Amazing what we learn as we grow up, huh? Nice work on that

  • How very true my RA started flaring after being in a really bad earthquake then 2 very bad emotional shocks..

    Cannot.believe how any stress.can start a flare up but it does take care xxcx

  • Wow - I've only been through little earthquakes, and here in the East we don't have them much. I am amazed that you came through it so well.

  • Luckily it was at 3.00am it was 8.4 the house was on a floating platform so when it started sliding vacs and forward I was so scared. Done lots of starry things in my life but that took the biscuit and the aftershocks were scary as you didn't know when they would come. A few days later was peeling veggies at the sink and there was a huge bang and it shot me backwards into the units. Hey ho we lived to tell the tale. We were nannying a farm (NZ) and in the 24 hrs after all our 250 Angus cows dropped their calves they were 2/3 weeks early. It was an experience!!!!

  • OMG - That is the "big one" for sure. Here it would be dangerous because we have stuff "up high" that is unsecured... So, what was the huge bang?

    Ah - that's kind of cute - early delivery. I guess it might do that to me too...

  • Wow Linda, I can not imagine how scared you were. What an experience you lived through. The only eathquake I felt was 175 miles away. The Feb 2001 Nisqually eathquake in Washington State. My house shook violently for a few seconds.

  • Yes, stress is a major thing with RA, like the joints are responding with anger or hurt. How to deal with it though, I haven't figured that out yet. Relaxation youtubes help a bit. Close relationships can be hard, and people can be thoughtless at times.

    Hope it calms down soon. Take care xx

  • Thanks MrsBones - I just put some pain oil on, let it soak in, washed it off, then put on some KT tape and took some Tramadol. Later I took Demerol because the pain was so high. It's better this morning.

    This is the third time or so that she has done some of these things, so I think I am ready, sadly, to just let the friendship go. That doesn't happen easily - I have some friends that I have had for 20 or 30 years.. *sigh*

  • I guess when time comes we have to let go. I have a girl friend who sent me food when I was very sick and on medical leave those days. Recently I came to know from my son that my girl friend was not happy because I did not visit her for a long time. I was so surprised to know that because I was so sick for a long time and she knew it.

    I always up to outing to get myself active to exercise and to do some voluntary works during weekends which she does not like all these. She does not like to be under the sun and she is not interested to do those kind of voluntary work that I do. I invited her once and she kept to herself all the time.

    Having know that, I sent her a message the following weekend when I went for my exercise in the garden near her home. She did not respond at all. I told my son that I have to let her go because we have different interests in life and we do not have similar topics to talk to. However, I did thanks her sending me food when I was very sick.

    She is my son's classmate's mother. I came to know this problem existed through his classmate when my son came back and visited her recently.

  • Hi Amy_Lee - The problem with your friend I suspect is that she didn't really realize how sick you were and that you still are to a good extent. She may have equated it to the flu and thought that once you were walking it was time for you to give back or whatever..

    Mine started over a small misunderstanding which I am more than happy to overlook, but she escalated it so much while blaming everything on me, that I just couldn't take total responsibility. I am now mostly over the flare (about 3 - 6 days early - go figure!), and have still not heard back from her. So, like you I am just going to let her go. Sometimes we have to be adults... Well, at least one of us needs to be :-)

  • Dear CaerylUSA,

    It is hard for those who have no RA to really understand what RA is all about. I do not want to stress myself over it hence I just let go of those who cannot understand our suffering. I am now into joining local RA foundation so that I can do my part to inspire them to look forward.

    Tomorrow is World Arthritis Day, we are going to gather in a hotel to share our recovering process. Rheumy will be invited to keep us updated and give us more information about what to do and what not to do. Also, physiotherapists will be showing us what kind of exercises to do. Occupational therapist will show us what kind of equipment in the market that we can get to help us around. A yoga trainer will have a yoga session with us too.

    I would rather spend my time into all these activities than to spend unnecessary time trying to convince someone who know nothing about RA. I met her once when my daughter took me out for shopping, I told her I was still in great pain but I needed to do a lot of exercise to recover. I thought she understood, but looked like she did not. Anyway, let go of the negative to ensure I am not being affected emotionally is the key to maintain my remission.

  • It's all about balance. You are wise to know where you need to balance. Enjoy your day tomorrow!

  • It was very kind of you to thank her for the help she gave you when you were ill. She was good to you and you appreciated her kindness.

    This woman has a good heart, but she also has drama. I'm glad you aren't putting up with the "drama".

  • No doubt she is a very kind woman but she needs a lot of education to keep up with the world. Once when I had an operation on my hand, that was a year ago before I was diagnosed with RA, I put up a week in her home so that she could take care of me.

    During that week, I learn more about her weakness. She loves to watch a lot of TV drama, she is a housewife and she does not know English at all. Because she is alone at home, she decided to take care of 2 little kids at home.

    I told her that kids needed to learn when they played so let them out in the garden within her own home to play and run, but she said that would make the kids very dirty. I disagreed on that totally. Kids need to run and enjoy outdoor activities. I used to let my kids played outdoor as much as they could, they are very strong and independent right now. From playing outdoor in the garden with a lot of other kids, my kids also learned to share and mix well with others at the early age.

    Then I told her not to just watch so much of TV drama, she could learn English together with the kids. She tried when I was there with her and I was guiding her along from the very beginning via both TV and writing and reading together with the kids. At least some improvement here instead of putting the kids watching the drama with her all day long.

    After I came back home, I still guided her along for a while via facebook, whatsapp and phone. But after a very short few weeks, she gave up, she said just too hard to learn. I could not do anything since she gave up on her own. I used to visit her those days during weekend if I was available not out for voluntary works.

    After that I was sick with RA then I stopped all the normal activities because I tried to recover from my sickness for a long time. Surely I did not visit anyone. I was diagnosed since about 2 years plus now, this message of she being unhappy with me not visiting her come to me via my son made me laugh. Therefore I decided to send her the message but she ignored it totally.

    Just like teaching her English, she gave up so I could not doing anything. Therefore when she ignored my message, I too could not do anything beside letting go of the relationship. I hope she will realize it one day that I was down with RA and she could visit me instead of me visiting her all the times.

    Both our kids are still in college in Taiwan. My son is in his 4 years of medical course and her daughter is in her final year of Mass Com. They are very good friends. Now both the mothers in such a relationship putting the two young people a bit sad really.

  • It's hard to let go of a long term friendship. My issue with my 38 year friendship is her belief that RA isn't a real disease.... I don't talk to her much's up to her to educate herself. It's up to her to make our friendship work. I will not pretend to be "fine" inorder for our friendship to continue.

  • You are right to just leave it to her to learn what RA is all about. When we cannot do many things as normal but we do look normal, our friends will expect a lot from us to be as normal. However, deep inside us, our body is crying for pain hence a lot of time we cannot just do thing as normal. We are also very tired hence we need a lot of rest too.

    To keep a friendship going, we need to put in a lot of efforts from both side, if our good friend cannot understand our problem and started to get mad with us then no point to continue to stress ourselves really. We cannot have that kind of stress to add onto our sickness.

  • I'm sure stress affects RA ....I had the neighbour from hell move in about ten months ago & the noise, the mangey dog, the mess, the feral kids chalking all over really stresses me out.....I had the worst flare yet this summer triggered I'm sure by these unruly children kicking their ball into my garden Day after day.

    At first I tried to speak to the mother...but she doesn't want to know...she is too busy smoking & supping her glass of wine to go to work let alone discipline her children.

    I am trying to move.....but small houses that are livable don't seem to exist& they don't seem to build 2 bed properties any more....if they do they are usually on huge estates which I can't face!

    I try to ignore the situation...but when I see the dog mess outside my back gate I despair.

    Stress levels certainly push up my RA flares!

  • Oh Aged Crone - That sounds much worse than my little situation. I can, and probably will, walk away from mine, but you have to live with yours day after day.

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I bet your RA is much harder to control. I take it there is no homeowners association you could involve? We don't have one either so I end up yelling at them, and if appropriate calling the police. But you don't want to make too much of a fuss about things because then they can get aggressive.. I'm sorry. That sucks

  • Unfortunately I own my house & the nfh rents from a housing association & they don't want to know!

    The one blessing is both kids are under 10 & haven't discovered noisy music. But the police are always banging on their door...all my lovely neighbours are sympathetic as the appearance of the house is deteriorating & will devalue their houses as well as mine!

    21st century living is sure different!

  • Yes, I would agree with that. We have a show over here called Barnwood Builders, and the guys in it always talk about what a different world it was two hundred years ago, and they are right. There seemed to be a lot more accountability then.

    Maybe you need to get a couple of discreet security cameras and place them around your property. Then when things happen and the police have to keep coming out, you will have video of it.. THEN maybe they will start to care?

  • I guess I could video with my iPad.......but I try not to look out of the window that overlooks the area.

    I try to put it to the back of my mind so that I don't keep being reminded!

    In the UK I think a lot comes down to lack of discipline & Benefits of extraordinary amounts being paid to fit & healthy young people who end up never doing a days work in their life & they end up believing they are entitled to every luxury people who work have!

    Rant over!

  • Unfortunately, we are in the same place here now - something like 50 million people - most of whom are actually fit and could work, on welfare, free healthcare, free phones, etc. etc. etc. Very frustrating.

    The comment you made about entitlement is interesting because when I look at what people get, it is just enough to keep them dependent and quiet but not enough to get them that nice house in the Hamptons. You still only get that by working hard and managing your money...

  • We have people on Benefits here with a couple of children getting more than twice the living wage of a hardworking family. They might not be living in the Hamptons, but they certainly aren't camping on skid row!

    I just hope our new PM finds a way of finding jobs for these Benefit recipients so that more cash go go to our NHS.

    I often have to wait 3 weeks to see my GP & then only get a 10 min appointment!

  • Your new PM and our new president - I'm just really nervous about our elections - Fingers crossed...

  • You really have a difficult choice.......basically I think they are both too old! What about the of them might get a chance!

  • I've been watching the "Gong" show election coverage on CNN. It's hilarious to watch from Canada, but I too would be scared if I lived across the boarder. I love our PM Trudeau.

  • My heart goes out to the crazy lady's children. Just imagine the hell they live through with a drunk lazy mom.

    Is there away to make peace with the children? Maybe offering them friendship with a toy or kindness may help. Who knows? Maybe you can be their beacon of light in their troubled childhood.

  • I think Social Services are involved & I am wanting to move house so the less involvement I have the better.

    My health has gone downhill since they moved in & I just don't have the strength to deal with the situation.

  • It's certainly true, stress makes RA worse, I was told this when first dx 31 years ago by my very kind dedicated rheumatologist. I went through a bad breakup of my marriage about a year later. All has made me stronger and very aware of what stress can do. I do hope your friendship can be repaired. and wish you luck.

  • Thanks Gigi71 - I actually found this out the usual way too - I ended up in the ER thinking I had broken my hand. After several hours and a pretty hefty bill to the insurance, their diagnosis was flare. The second time I ended up in the ER, and the same thing happened, I have learned how to recognize them, but not how to prevent them. The things that stress us are frequently a surprise...

  • Wouldn't it be lovely if we could live a stress free life, in our dreams, then we would also chose not to have RA and all the 'joys' that brings along the way. We have a program called Trust Me I'm a Doctor, he experiments with all sorts of alternative therapies, he was doing one on Mindfullness, seemed to come out very well, may well give it a try. Xx

  • Yeeeaaahhhh - Trust me I'm a doctor... Hmmm - ha ha - Not so much until they prove I can...

  • Lets not berate the good doctors out there. I am very thankful for them for the doctors that graduated at the bottom of the class, well.... where do I start?

  • Yes. Like I said - when they prove I can trust them, I will. Like my GP of 30- years. I found her about 3 months after she graduated and have been with her since - she rocks!

  • I agree entirely about flare ups often being stress related. I worked as a teacher for over 30 years, eventually having to retire early because the stress of the job was increasing almost daily, and for every Ofsted inspection I ended up having to take several weeks off to recover. I was really sad to stop working because I really loved my job, but in the end my rheumy told me it was time o put my health first. I haven't had a flare in over a year!

  • I too was a teacher and then 4 years ago took a job as a teaching assistant as the job became so stressful. I had already decided to retire on my teacher's pension last Christmas at my 60th birthday but literally in the last week of term my creaky knees swelled up and by January every joint seemed on fire. I was diagnosed with RA Factor and CCP positive RA in February this year. Must admit I had sort of blamed the flu jab that I'd had for the first time in October but maybe not ...........

    Anyone else had a flare up or start of RA after the flu jab?

  • I just get the flu when they jab me... They tell me that isn't possible, but every. single. time... ha ha

  • Funny you should mention this, I had a flu jab yesterday, also my b12 and for good measure my Humira jab. My feet are really bad today, went up the High Street and had to come back. Been having the flu jab for many years without any problems. Have started on methotrexate recently and it doesn't seem as good as Azathioprine, I was on that for 31 years. They wanted me to come off it as keep having small skin cancers. Was blaming this, but who knows !!!!!

  • Oh! Well it could be the change in drugs of course but I have seen flu jabs linked to onset and flare ups on various RA sites though none have been backed up by the medical profession. The practice nurse told me would have happened straight after jab if it was linked, rather than 6 weeks later. Others have said would have been same if I'd caught the flu- but that doesn't seem quite the same to me!

  • I woke up one morning, 5 weeks after a hysterectomy and couldn't move, everywhere hurt and inflammation in all my joints, I was eventually dx with Lupus/RA. This was 31 years ago. At one time about 18months later I saw a Homeopath and she advised when you take away one layer another comes to the surface. I already had one autoimmune condition, Hasimotoes dx 8 years previously. I had a bad case of German measles, I had had this as a child so was surprised to get it again. It triggered off my thyroid condition. It's amazing how we respond to things.

  • Wow - I've only been dealing with this for six years (treating for two..), and it seems to me that right now there is a lot of information out on the net and elsewhere.. But 31 years ago you must have been feeling pretty frustrated and moreover, isolated.. Poor baby - you've had it forever. How are you feeling now?

  • It was so scary, no one in the family had it and I didn't know anyone with it. Luckily my Gp at the time, put me on a low dose of steroids until I got a 'emergency' appointment with the rheumatologist 3 months later. He got me into hospital for a month with bed rest and intensive steroid injections into all my inflamed joints 5 or 6 a day, although it gave relief at the time I am convinced it made my joints very weak. Have had several operations including triple foot fusions on both feet, my right ankle has collapsed but while I can get about, will put up with it. Just before I went into hospital that first time the tendon in my left thumb ruptured. They operated and was successful. Have new knuckles on my right hand and a tendon transfer in all my fingers on the left hand. I am a very positive person even though I go from one health problem to another. Have had remissions and then something else pops up. Have just been dx with osteoarthritis in my back, this came on in March, have always thought I was lucky not to have this before as my walking and posture are very bad. Have a good family, small group of good friends. Have been retired for 11 years and love it. Life can be good. I just hope life will be good for you too. Xx

  • Hi Gigi - Life is actually wonderful for me - Thanks for the nice thoughts.

    Boy, it has to take a lot to be that positive when you have that much that just keeps showing up one after another, but it sounds like you have mastered it.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend coming up and just get to enjoy your retirement a little more. I have known so many people that finally make it to retirement that die before they can enjoy it that I think it is much underrated..

    Take care

  • Thank you for your kind words Caeryl, and pleased you also appreciate life. I have a very dear friend who is fighting a battle with cancer and boy does she live her life along side it. She is 82 and leaves me standing. Enjoy your weekend too xxx

  • It's awesome that it has been more than a year Helenlw7. I know what you mean - I absolutely loved my job too, but I was traveling from Virginia to SF California every week to get to it. After 8 years, I had to stop. Like you, I'm really glad I did..

  • Totally agree. This week I had a super-flare up in one particular joint after a very difficult couple of days dealing with a big life decision. My hand literally went red, burning up in heat and soreness. It's the first time since my diagnosis that I've seen such an obvious reaction. Stay relaxed friends xxx

  • And don't you just look at your hands, sigh a little and say, what now?? ha ha.

  • 100% agree with you.

  • Me and my consultant both believe that stress was a major cause in me getting RA. A year prior I was pregnant with twins and then we had twin to twin transfusion, rushed for emergency laser surgery in utero then delivered my boys at just 6 and a half months pregnant where one of my precious wings gained his angel wings.we then had four months of NICU and my little boy is still on oxygen. I feel that all that has been mentally and physically draining and I've never been right since.

  • Ah sweetie - I can't even find words for how hard this is for you. I can only pray for you and wish that things get dramatically better very soon...

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