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Can Weather Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis

Does Humidity Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis

Does Weather Affect Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative joint illness that worsens over time, if not treated properly. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are also observed to worsen with weather changes.

Patients especially complain of increased joint pain when the weather is humid. Many patients say that their bodies somehow predict the weather as the joint pain accelerates when its about to rain.

It seems that there is some link between humid, cold weather and arthritis. Lets find out with scientific evidence whether humidity affects rheumatoid arthritis, or is it just a myth? You will also come to know about the ways to soothe your aching joints in rainy and cold weather.

Heat Humidity And Common Pain Conditions

During the summer months, especially in Texas, many chronic pain conditions are affected by humidity and heat.

  • Arthritis. One study suggests nearly 5% of older people with osteoarthritis claim that hot weather impacts their joint pain. Individuals with inflammatory arthritis experience pain when temperature and humidity rise due to the way joint tissue. Joint tissue expands and contracts when temperature changes and humidity increases, therefore triggering pain in those with inflammatory arthritis.

Arthritis pain may arise from inflammatory rheumatologic disorders, damage from injuries or osteoarthritis caused by regular wear and tear. In many patients, it is associated with nerve pain. It may also occur in people with gastrointestinal disorders.

Treatments for Arthritis/Rheumatologic Pain include:

Break Out Your Yoga Mat

One of the reasons that your pain may seem worse when its cold is because people are less inclined to move or go outside when its chilly, says Anca Askanase, MD, a rheumatologist and director of rheumatology clinical trials at Columbia University Medical Center. Doing some light exercise, like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, or Qigong, or taking a short walk will not only help warm your body up on cold days but will help your joint pain as well, she explains. One of the best things you can do is to keep moving, even when youre in pain, Dr. Askanase says.

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Can You Prevent Arthritis Flare

Anyone with arthritis will tell you that planning ahead to avoid flare-ups is key. According to the Arthritis Foundation, a solid prevention plan is one of the best ways to manage your arthritis and avoid flare-ups.

People with weather-sensitive arthritis cant control the weather, but they can learn to prepare better for certain weather conditions and the symptoms that may accompany those changes. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Keep an eye on weather conditions for the upcoming days and weeks in your area, if keeping tabs on the forecast feels genuinely helpful to you.
  • Try to avoid being in harsh weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, for long periods of time.
  • Dress in warm, dry clothing when the weather is cold.
  • Dress in cool, loose clothing when the weather is hot and humid.
  • Adjust the temperature inside your home to be neutral , neither too hot nor too cold.

Outside of planning around the weather, its also important to have a prevention plan for any other triggers that can lead to a flare-up in your symptoms. So, if youre someone whose arthritis is negatively affected by things such as infection, illness, overexertion, or even emotional stress, your plan might also include:

Eat Healthy Between And During The Holidays

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Dont worry, I am not just trying to remind you of this but also to remind myself. To get out of the holiday bloat and gloat, I try to incorporate as many healthy dishes in my holiday meals or eat healthy foods before I chow down on the tempting bad dishes. Being full of fresh fruits and veggies helps stop me from overindulging. Ive also started making smaller batches of bad foods so Im not as tempted with leftovers for days.

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Seasonal And Weather Effects On Rheumatoid Arthritis: Myth Or Reality

Hamida AzzouziAcademic Editor: Received

Abstract

1. Introduction

The effect of climate on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is frequently addressed by our patients. There are conflicting results in the literature, and it is unclear whether the effect is a coincidence or a direct effect. Among the arguments advanced to explain the inconclusive findings reported on the climate effect on pain, we find seasons. Seasons are defined by climate at a particular place on the earth. Seasonality is a phenomenon that has been frequently reported to be related to various conditions in humans, including diseases , growth , gene expression and immunity , and physiology . Specifically, the effect of seasonality on autoimmune and joint diseases has been described in the studies . For rheumatoid arthritis, this effect has been described for the onset of the disease, its course, and even its radiographic progression and severity .

Furthermore, symptom and particularly pain analysis is one of the difficulties encountered among the studies on weather effects on arthritic patients. Indeed, pain is difficult to objectify as it is a subjective experience with considerable inter- and intraindividual variations. Moreover, even if the study on weather parameters is regarded to be simple, the interrelation between weather parameters and human beings is complex in addition, seasonal variations should be taken into consideration .

2. Patients and Methods

2.1. Study Design
2.2. Subjects

3. Results

I Am Far Less Productive

I definitely find my productivity level drops with the temperature. There is no doubt that physical activity helps me get more done in a day and its harder to be physically active during winter. I also find warm sunshine to be motivating for my emotional and physical well-being. Its just easier to do things when you dont have to worry about freezing temperatures, rain, or snow.

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Some People Feel Weather

Know any weather-sensitive people who feel really cold when its chilly out or can pick up on changing humidity levels? According to one study, weather-sensitive people reported more pain than non-weather-sensitive people with arthritis.8 And a review of research found that patients react in different ways to the weather.9 So your smug neighbors with arthritis who always say the weather doesnt affect them may actually feel less pain than you.

Get Your Yearly Flu Shot And Stay Current On Your Pneumonia Vaccine

Rheumatoid Arthritis and warm weather

Even the healthiest people can be felled by the flu, but those with rheumatoid arthritis , psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and other autoimmune forms of arthritis are at even greater risk of infections like the flu and pneumonia. Both the arthritis itself, which compromises how well your body fights off infections, and certain medications used to control the disease, which can further weaken the immune system, can make flu season more risky resulting in higher susceptibility of catching viruses, more severe infections and complications like pneumonia and hospitalization, and longer recovery periods.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting a flu shot by October, since the flu typically occurs between October and May, its not too late to get vaccinated. People with inflammatory arthritis should get the inactivate vaccine , which contains killed viruses. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that can weaken the immune system and is not currently approved for use in people with inflammatory arthritis.

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Why Is Arthritis Worse In The Winter

Jan 11, 2022Amy Paturel

If you suffer from arthritis, whether inflammatory or not, youve probably noticed your joints getting crankier as the weather turns colder. But why are arthritis symptoms worse during the winter?

Our joints operate best in temperate weather, says Dr. Mariko L. Ishimori, Interim Director at the Cedars-SinaiDivision of Rheumatology. When the weather gets cooler, the synovial fluid that acts like motor oil in our joints becomes more like sludge.

Some people are so sensitive to the weather that their aching joints act as a signal that a storm is coming.

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The Link Between Weather And Joint Pain

It isnt entirely clear why weather affects people with arthritis, but the link between weather and arthritic pain has been extensively studied. People with arthritis may experience pain in places where temperature changes are more extreme and in damp climates. They also experience pain in response to climate factors like humidity, air pressure, and wind speed. Temperature and barometric pressure have also been noted as contributing factors to joint pain. Understanding how different weather patterns affect pain can help people with arthritis find the best climate for them.

AntonioGuillem / Getty Images

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Experimental I: The Effect Of Humidity On Arthritis

The DBA/1 mice were grouped into three groups : control group : kept in 50 ± 5% humidity environment and injected with 0.9 % NaCl solution on days 21 and 42 CIA group : kept in 50 ± 5% humidity environment and injected with 200 g bovine type collagen type II in 200 L complete Freunds adjuvant on day 21 and injected with 200 g bovine type collagen type II in 200 L incomplete Freunds adjuvant on day 42 humidity CIA group : kept in 80 ± 5% humidity environment and the injection method with bovine was the same as the CIA group. The reasons of choosing 80% humidity were as follows: the 80% humidity was regarded as the boundary of high humidity in the previous literatures the 80% humidity could not affect the intake of diet and water in DBA/1 mice. The time course, grouping information and humidity fluctuations were shown in Fig. . The entire experimental period was 8 weeks.

Fig. 1

a The diagram of the experimental treatments is shown. b Variation of humidity in the cage per day

The blood was obtained from the eye socket vein on day 56 and then centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 15 min at 4 °C for serum. The arthritis score and ankle joint swelling were measured every 3 days after day 42. The DBA/1 mice with 16 weeks old were euthanized to obtained the hind limbs of mice including the ankle.

Why Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis

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The scientific community is still somewhat divided when it comes to whether or not cold temperatures can exacerbate arthritis pain. There isnt much conclusive evidence, but some studies show that there may be a link between low barometric pressure, high humidity, and joint swelling.

Many believe that a drop in barometric pressure, which occurs when a cold front is approaching, causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness. A recent study revealed a significant yet modest relationship between pain and relative humidity, pressure, and wind speed. According to the study results, the worst combination of weather variables increases the odds of experiencing pain by around 20 percent in comparison to the average day.

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Opportunities For Activity Year

Bright, warm weather offers plenty of opportunity for year-round outdoor activity, a crucial part of managing osteoarthritis. While aches and pains can tempt a person to take it easy, over and again research shows that movement helps in painful joints.

Pro-tip: In colder but still arthritis-friendly cities like Denver, bundling up is key to staying active outside year round.

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Keep Warm When Outside

Of course, you cant stay inside forever, even during the winter chill. When youre trying to avoid triggering your arthritis, its advisable to treat any outing as a potential moment for your pain to flare up. Its easier to leave the house unprepared than you may think even a quick trip to the mailbox or the car could potentially leave you with stiff joints and regret. When preparing to step outside, layering is key: first, you should have a pair of thermal undergarments under your regular clothes, and a hat and gloves to protect your extremities. If your arthritis is an obstacle to wearing gloves, mittens are a perfectly acceptable alternative.

By following these tips, you can keep yourself comfortable and protect your joints all winter long. That said, if arthritis pain is a constant struggle that affects your quality of life, it may be time to see an arthritis specialist near you. At OAA, the board-certified, fellowship-trained team at our Rheumatology Institute is highly-trained and ready to help you live life to the fullest.

Our Pain Management team is proud to have won Morning Calls Readers Choice Best Pain Management in 2021. If youre ready to take the first steps on your road to recovery in the new year, schedule your appointment with OAA today or call 973-6200 for more information.

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Ethics Approval And Consent To Participate

All animal handling and experimental procedures were performed following local ethical committees and the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. All efforts were made to minimize animal suffering and to reduce the number of animals used. All procedures performed in this study involving animals were approved by the Ethics Committee of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University.

The Effects Of Humidity And Barometric Pressure

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? | Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

One two-year study looked at the effect of the weather on 222 patients with hip osteoarthritis. Researchers found that higher humidity levels were associated with more pain and that higher barometric pressures were associated with worse function. The severity of the osteoarthritis, however, was not affected.1

Another study, this time on 810 patients with osteoarthritis of the hips and knees, also found that there was a significant association between daily average humidity and temperature and changes in joint pain. The effect of humidity was found to be more pronounced during periods of colder weather.2

In contrast, studies looking at osteoarthritis of the spine did not find such a link. For example, a large Australian study with 1,604 patients showed no effect of the weather on the severity of back pain experienced by these patients.3

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Why Is My Arthritis Worse In The Summer

If your arthritis seems to flare up in summer, youre not alone, and you can blame the heat and humidity. The hotter it is outside, the more your body will be susceptible to swelling. The more prone to swelling you are, the more pain you will have. Research shows that barometric pressure can also have some impact.Jun 1, 2020

Create A Cozy Sleeping Area

Have you ever woken up feeling cold and thought: I will get another blanket soon? Then you wake up again, and your joints are screaming out at you for not taking care of them earlier? Like everything else with cold weather, plan ahead. Layer yourself. If desired, purchased a heated blanket. Do whatever is necessary to keep those joints warm.

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Exposure To Cold Work Environment And Risk Of Ra

When compared with subjects who reported having never worked in cold environment , the OR of developing RA was 1.5 among those who had ever worked in cold environment. When the exposure was stratified into cold outdoor and cold indoor environment, the ORs of developing RA were 1.5 and 1.7 , respectively. For cold outdoor work, relatively similar ORs were observed among current and past exposed groups, whereas for cold indoor work, the OR associated with current exposure was higher than past exposure . These results did not change substantially after adjusting for cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, educational level, BMI, silica exposure, occupational class and occupational physical workloads .

ORs of developing RA among subjects exposed to prolonged repetitive physical workload and cold work environment 5years before baseline

Considering that exposures more than 5 years before baseline might also be of importance and to increase the statistical power, an analysis where the time of exposure to cold work environment was not restricted to 5 years before baseline, while exposure to physical workload remained at 5 years before baseline, was also performed. Moderate additive interactions to 0.3 between exposure to cold work environment and four types of physical workloads were observed .

Between Slippery Sidewalks Aching Joints And Colds And Flu Winter Is Rough On Arthritis These Tips Can Help You Stay Healthy And Safe

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If it hasnt arrived where you live yet, rest assured that winter is coming and that can be bad news for people with arthritis , many of whom can literally feel the season in their bones. Some people with arthritis feel better in the winter, but most feel worse, reports Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida, and medical advisor for CreakyJoints.

Science hasnt 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. Low temps may also increase the thickness of the synovial fluid that acts as the joints shock absorber, which makes joints stiffer and more sensitive to pain. Winter even seems to affect us down to our DNA. According to one 2015 study, genes that promote inflammation are increased in winter, while genes that suppress inflammation are simultaneously decreased in the winter. If all thats not enough, flu season is also riskier when you have inflammatory arthritis.

The good news: Winter doesnt have to be season of your discontent if you have arthritis. Check out this advice on how to stay healthy and manage your arthritis pain during the winter months.

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