Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Pain

Managing a Pain Flare (5761)

Managing a Pain Flare (5761) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Pain


Managing a Pain Flare

Nearly all people with chronic pain have
“flares.” Flares are short-term increases in
one’s usual level of pain. These flares may
last a few hours or days to many weeks.
The reason for the flare may be easy to find,
or the reason may never be found. Some
causes of flares include the weather,
exercise, stress, hormones, lack of sleep, or
an injury.

Dealing well with a pain flare means the
pain would be less intense and would last a
shorter time. Planning ahead of time and
sharing this plan with your doctor may help
in handling these flares when they occur.

ξ Helpful tips: Decide if this increase in
pain is a flare, rather than a new pain. A
flare will be pain in the same place and
will be the same type of pain as usual,
but more severe. There is no need to
share each of these with a doctor. If new
symptoms of illness such as fever,
vomiting, or numbness occur with the
flares, these should be reported.

ξ Keep in mind that pain flares do not last
long. When pain worsens, good coping
skills will help to avoid the fear and
worry that may lead to even more pain.
Good coping skills may include:
Humor, friendship, hobbies, spirituality
pets, meditation and relaxation, time to
yourself, physical activity, and reading.

ξ Decide what might have caused this
flare. Causes of flares may be simple
things such as eating certain foods,
chewing gum, having poor posture, or
having to change daily routines or sleep
schedules. Causes may also be more
complex and hard to see. Keeping a log
may help to learn the cause of a flare, to
manage the pain, and to avoid flares in
the future.

ξ Decide if your usual activity level has
changed lately. Return to a normal
routine to help manage a flare. Pace
yourself. Balance activity with rest
during the day. Slowly increase what
you are doing and take frequent, short
breaks. It may help to reduce activity by
25-50% for one to two days and then to
return to a known routine. It may also
be helpful to increase stretching and
walking. Learn and practice those
exercises that help the most during a

ξ Do something pleasant each day to
distract from the pain. To watch a
movie, listen to music, read a book or to
visit with family. All often help distract
from the pain.

ξ Continue to use your medicine as

ξ Non-drug methods of pain relief should
be added to the pain care plan. Discuss
the use of heat, ice, massage, or exercise
with your provider.


Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©9/2017. University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5761