Your Flares

Helping you plan ahead for flares

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

What is a flare?

There will be times when your axial SpA flares or worsens and times when it seems more manageable or settled. See how Paul and Poppy experience flares.

We have put together some advice on managing flares. It’s important you plan ahead for a flare so you know what to do if a flare strikes.


Talk to your rheumatologist or GP about how you can adjust your usual medications if your axial SpA flares.

  • Find out the maximum dose to which you can safely increase your usual medications
  • Ask which other medications you can safely add

Do write down the information you are given and keep it somewhere safe and convenient so you can easily refer to it when needed. You might want to pin it to a notice board or keep it in your bedside or bathroom cabinet.

Make sure you have the medication you need and if you are travelling don’t forget to pack it in your hand luggage.


Consider avoiding high impact exercise such as running if you are having a flare or feel you may have one coming on.

Talk to your physiotherapist about the type of gentle stretching exercises that would be most suitable for you during a flare.

There are suggested stretching exercises in our Back to Action exercise programme.

Discover what helps you

Take the time to write down a list of the things that you know make you feel better when your axial SpA is worse and pin it up somewhere in your home. That way you have a list of helpful suggestions ready for if you do flare. Some things that people have told us make them feel better include:

  • A long, hot bath
  • Gently stretching in a long hot shower
  • Using an electric under-blanket in bed
  • Alternating between hot water bottles or wheat bags and ice packs
  • Watching your favourite DVD or playing your favourite music. Try keeping a special mood busting play list on your iPod for when you really feel down and stressed with your axial SpA

Download our Guide to Flares to help you form a flare care plan.

Read more in our blog on managing flares.

Preparing for and managing axial SpA flares

Creating a flare toolkit

Read more