A flare in symptoms can be painful, frustrating and often scary. Why is this happening all the sudden? It's critical to have a flare busting plan in place you can use to get out of the flare!
Flares happen in pelvic health issues. It can be a sudden spike of pain or an increase of symptoms like urinary urgency/frequency. And it's one of the most frustrating things about recovering from pelvic issues - progress isn't always linear.
However, we hope it's comforting that flares are absolutely a normal part of healing. We just need to make sure we're managing them and getting your body back on track as soon as possible.
Sometimes we know the reason for the flare - something we ate, a new exercise at the gym, new stress in our lives, being unable to get in for regular treatment. Others it may be a mystery. Either way, we need to have a plan in place for when symptoms flare.
Who are We at PelvicSanity?
At PelvicSanity, it's our mission to support patients with pelvic pain and pelvic floor symptoms, regardless of where you live. We can help with:
What is a Flare?
A flare is a sudden spike in pain or symptoms. Sometimes we know the reason, other times it may not be clear.
One myth to dispel is a flare means 'you're back to square one.' In fact, nothing is further from the truth. As you're improving your body is changing, moving to a new normal. While there may be setbacks, it doesn't mean you're starting over!
Why a Flare-Busting Plan?
For many patients, when they're in a flare it becomes hard to focus and prioritize their options. At PelvicSanity, we realized this was an issue and developed a Flare-Busting plan we use with all our patients so they are prepared for a flare and know exactly what to do to get out of it.
This takes the mystery out of how to respond to a flare. It's also a great reminder that flares are often expected and something we can prepare for.
What are your Personal Flare Busters?
First, we ask every patient to list two or three flare-busters of their own. These have to be something you can do entirely on your own, so they're completely within your power.
Common personal flare-busters include ice or heat, OTC pain medications, deep breathing, meditation, a warm bath or gentle stretching.
What Medical Interventions are Most Helpful?
The next aspect of the pelvic pain flare-busting plan involves identifying which medical practitioners are most helpful in reducing your pain levels.
In the midst of a flare sometimes patients will cancel appointments with providers who can provide the most relief.
When a flare occurs, identify the most helpful member of your medical team and do your best to get in for an appointment as soon as possible! This can often be your pelvic PT, but could also be an acupuncturist, urologist or urogynecologist.
Understand your Safe Foods
If you have trigger foods or dietary sensitivity, record and understand what your 'safe' or comfort foods are. Foods you know won't irritate your symptoms. When you're in a flare, make sure your diet is as good as it possibly can be to help get you out as soon as possible.
Understand the Cause
Finally, it's really important to work to understand the cause. While some flares truly can 'come out of the blue,' in the vast majority of cases you can identify some factors that may have led to the flare.
Common factors include sexual activity, stopping or changing your self-care regimen, added stress, prolonged sitting, changes in physical activity or exercise, diet change or medication change.
Understand the root cause(s) of your flare gives you back a sense of control and lets you know there's something you can also do to get out of it!
Develop your Flare-Busting Plan
If you haven't developed a flare-busting plan with your medical team, you can create one on your own to make sure you have a concrete plan of action when something change
If you do need help finding a referral or more information, feel free to contact PelvicSanity to see if we know anyone in your area or if there's another way we can help!
Dr. Nicole Cozean is the founder of PelvicSanity Physical Therapy in Orange County, CA. PelvicSanity treats patients from all over the world with remote consultations and the Immersive Out of Town Program. She also runs Pelvic PT Rising, training other pelvic PTs to better serve patients.
Named Physical Therapist of the Year, Dr. Nicole is author of the award-winning book The Interstitial Cystitis Solution and the first PT to serve on the ICA Board of Directors, Her passion is helping those with pelvic health issues - regardless of where they live - find lasting relief.