So you’re getting ready to take your daughter to your mother’s house for the weekend. After all, your daughter loves spending quality time with Grandma! Right before you leave, Grandma gives you a call. “Make sure my granddaughter brings a heavy coat with her. There’s a storm coming. I can feel it in my knees.” It’s easy to hear that and roll your eyes. But for those suffering from arthritis, they really can “feel a storm coming,” and there’s a reason for that. Science hasn’t homed in on the reason that cold weather can exacerbate arthritis joint pain and stiffness, but there are a few possible explanations. A fall in barometric pressure, which often occurs as a cold front approaches, can cause joints to expand, which may result in pain. While predicting the weather might be a fun superpower associated with arthritis, very little else is fun. Those with arthritis have constant flare-ups, and they get worse in the wintertime. There are some remedies, though, that could help weather winter arthritis:
- Stay active: It may seem counterintuitive. It hurts when you move, but you’re supposed to move more? Exercise, though, is crucial for people living with arthritis. Physical activity helps ease pain, increase strength and flexibility, and boost energy. Avoiding exercise because you’re worried it can make your arthritis worse is a big misconception. Bundling up and taking a daily walk around the neighborhood could actually help.
- Keep warm: If winter freezes your joints, summer thaws them. Meet the seasons halfway by cuddling with a heavy blanket and staying as warm as possible. Heat makes the blood flow, and that blood flow helps improve pain tolerance. Warmth also relaxes muscles to decrease spasms and reduce stiffness.
- Dress in layers: No matter how warm you are under a blanket at home, going outside seems to freeze your joints all over again. You have to keep that warmth going, and it’s important to have the tools you need to remain warm in the conditions. Dressing in layers helps, even more so than one large heavy coat, to keep you warm and the joint-shattering chills away.
- Get your Vitamin D: We all need Vitamin D, and most of us get it in the summertime, as sunlight is the best source for Vitamin D. Arthritis sufferers need Vitamin D, as studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiencies are connected to major rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Even though there’s less sunlight in the winter, and thus less Vitamin D, take a Vitamin D supplement and help stave off those flare-ups.
Osteoarthritis - Joint issues are one of the top reasons people visit their doctor, including for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is seen especially among an estimated 27 million Americans age 25 and older. It is by far the most common type of arthritis, and the percentage of people who have it grows higher with age. Sometimes osteoarthritis it is called degenerative joint disease, and mostly affects the cartilage, rather than the bone itself. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another. It also absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, small deposits of bone, also known as osteophytes or bone spurs, may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space. This causes more pain and damage. Those living with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and stiffness. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joint function, including pain and stiffness. The most commonly affected joints are those at the ends of the fingers (closest to the nail), thumbs, neck, lower back, knees, and hips. It also can occur in a single joint or can affect a joint on one side of the body much more severely. Osteoarthritis affects different people differently. It may progress quickly, but for most people, joint damage develops gradually over years. In some people, osteoarthritis is relatively mild and interferes little with day-to-day life; in others, it causes significant pain and disability. Talk to your doctor if you think you have Osteoarthritis. We can provide helpful treatments to help with your symptoms.
Summer bring activity and activity sometimes causes injury. A lot of times in your knees. Whether it's due to arthritis or an injury, it is important to keep an eye on what is actually causing knee pain. To start, the knee supports motions such as walking, running, crouching, jumping, and turning. Several parts help the knee to do its job, including:
- When did the pain start?
- How did the pain start?
- Is the pain linked to an injury?
- How severe is the pain?
- How has the pain changed over time?
- What makes the pain worse and what makes it better?
- What treatment has been used so far?
- Has this ever happened before?
Is the winter chill may be leaving your joints a bit achy? Does your arthritis feel like it’s worse than ever? Whether this joint pain/weather connection is scientifically true or not, you can still use these arthritis pain-relief tips when your aching joints act up in winter. Dress Warm! If it’s cold outside, keep aching hands warm with gloves, and add extra layers over knees and legs. Layer. Layer. Layer. It's important to wear several layers to enable you to control your comfort level when temperatures shift dramatically during the day. Consider wearing a few pairs of gloves that you can peel them off, one by one, as needed. Hydrate Drinking more water. Even mild dehydration might make you more sensitive to pain, so hydration and activity is key! Lose Weight Not only will weight off your joints help, but the physical activity with losing weight has shown successful results in reducing inflammation in joints. Additionally, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, studies have shown significant improvement people with knee arthritis can get from weight loss, from diet, and exercise. Exercise Inside While it's understandable to want to avoid winter chill, people with joint pain should still stay active. The less sedentary you are, the better your physical function. Come up with an indoor exercise plan such as treadmill or elliptical work or consider something like walking at the mall. Let Warm Water Comfort You Swimming in a heated pool is both great exercise and soothing to joints. You can also get relief from warm baths, just don’t go right out into the cold after your soak. Let your body temperature normalize a bit first. Supplement Vitamin D Studies report that low levels of vitamin D have been shown to play a role in how sensitive you are to arthritis pain. Being deficient in vitamin D also raises the risk for osteoporosis. You're less likely to get enough vitamin D from its natural source, sunlight, in the winter, so talk to your doctor about your need for supplements or vitamin D-fortified foods. Get a Massage Yes, you a great reason to indulge yourself and get a massage. Pain often emanates from the joint and some from the muscles around the joint. Getting an hour-long massage once a week for at least eight weeks was shown to reduce pain. Talk to your doctor about additional ways you can ease your joint pain this cold winter season.