Wrap Your Hands In Compression Gloves
Wearing compression gloves helps you deal with the cold in two ways: 1) The gloves help keep your hands warm while 2) the compression provides gentle pain relief on your tender joints. Elizabeth P., 35, swears by compression gloves to deal with her rheumatoid arthritis. She even sleeps in them, saying the pressure and added warmth keep her hands more limber and less painful come morning. If you dont like sleeping in gloves, you can always keep them nearby and put them on when you wake up and before you get out of bed.
Arthritis Can Affect People All Through The Year However The Winter And Wet Weather Months Can Make It Harder To Manage The Symptoms
The cold and damp weather affects those living with arthritis as climate can create increased pain to joints whilst changes also occur to exercise routines.
Many arthritis sufferers claim they can predict rainfall due to the level of pain in their joints. A recent study conducted in the US explains why. The study focused on patients with chronic pain, surveying if individuals feel an increase in pain when changes in weather occurs.
“67.9 percent of the people surveyed responded that they were sure changes in the weather had an effect on their pain. Most of the patients reported that they can feel a change in their pain before rain or cold weather occur,” said Robert Jamison, Professor at the Harvard Medical School and chief psychologist at the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Chestnut Hill.
Jamison revealed however that the factor that may be responsible for increased pain is not snow, cold or rain, but actually, a change in barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is the force exerted onto a surface by the weight of the atmosphere at any given point. As a storm system develops, the barometric pressure begins to drop.
“It doesn’t take much expansion or contraction of tissue to affect a pain trigger,” Jamison said. Therefore even individuals who live in drier climates also reported feeling more pain with weather changes.
Do Certain Types Of Weather Make Arthritis Worse
Some people find that arthritis feels worse during certain types of weather. Humidity and cold are two common triggers of joint pain.
There are a variety of reasons why this might happen. People tend to be less active in rainy seasons and the wintertime. The cold and damp can also stiffen joints and aggravate arthritis. Other theories suggest that barometric pressure, or the pressure of the air around us, may have some effect on arthritis.
If you find that certain types of weather make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage your symptoms. Dressing warmly, exercising inside or using heat therapy may help relieve your pain.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. There are many types of arthritis, all of which can cause pain and reduce mobility. Some forms of arthritis result from natural wear and tear. Other types come from autoimmune diseases or inflammatory conditions. There are a variety of treatments for arthritis, ranging from physical or occupational therapy to joint surgery. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and recommend the right treatment plan for your needs. Most people can successfully manage arthritis and still do the activities they care about.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/15/2021.
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What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
Reduce Your Risk For Joint Pain
- Ease the shock of cold weather on your body by dressing in layers to stay warm.
- Build up muscle and bone strength through exercise. This reduces pressure on your joints, so they are less prone to injury.
- Maintain a healthy weight to decrease stress on your joints, especially your knees.
- Avoid unnecessary strain on your joints during daily activities.
- Apply heating pads to painful areas. Heat helps relax your muscles.
- Get up, walk around and be active indoors and outdoors. Stretch before going outside to loosen stiff joints. Staying active in the winter keeps your muscles and joints healthy.
- Get a good nights sleep, eat a healthy diet and keep a positive outlook.
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Cloudy With A Chance Of Pain
The quest to define the link between arthritis and the weather continues, with researchers adopting more novel approaches that embrace modern technology.
The first smartphone-based study to investigate the relationship between weather and chronic pain, otherwise known as Cloudy with a chance of pain, ran between January 2016 and April 2017. During this time it collected 5 million pieces of data on symptoms, however the findings are yet to be reported.6
One smartphone-based study that has released findings looked at the location-based weather parameters of 1,334 participants in the US. Any significant links between pain symptoms and the weather were very weak in this study.7
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed
If you think you may have arthritis, see your healthcare provider. The provider will ask about your symptoms and learn how joint pain affects your life. Your provider will perform a physical exam, which may include:
- Assessing mobility and range of motion in your joints.
- Checking for areas of tenderness or swelling around your joints.
- Evaluating your overall health to determine if a different condition could be causing your symptoms.
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Theory : Joint Fluid Becomes Thicker In The Cold
From our knees, shoulders and hips to our hands and our feet, all of our joints contain a thick substance called synovial fluid, the purpose of which is to lubricate the area, allowing your joints to operate smoothly as you work them throughout your day. Another theory researchers have explored suggests that colder temperatures can actually cause this joint fluid to thicken past its usual viscosity, limiting its ability to flow within your joints as it should. The result? Increased stiffness in your joints. This theory may be particularly relevant to those with arthritis of the knee, since joint fluid acts as a shock absorber in the knees and can be a serious factor when examining pain and loss of mobility in that area.
Up Your Intake Of Omega
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for people who have an inflammatory type of arthritis.
A study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease in 2013 found that people with rheumatoid arthritis who took omega-3s supplements had a reduction in joint pain. Other studies suggest that omega-3s may help rheumatoid arthritis patients lower their dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . People with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk of heart disease, and omega-3s are known for their role in promoting heart health.
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include avocado, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
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How To Help Your Pup
If you notice your arthritic pup struggling more than usual during the winter monthsespecially right after they wake up in the morningyoull want to create a winter-specific treatment plan to help your dog cope with the cold. Here are some of the best things you can do to improve your dogs mobility and decrease their pain:
Winter can be tough on our pets, so its important to watch for changes in your dogs movement and behavior to know when its time to ramp up their arthritis treatment or visit the vet. By revamping your dogs treatment methods, youll be able to make them much more comfortable until spring!
Canine Arthritis In Winter
Most people with arthritis are familiar with the phenomenon of stiffer joints and increased pain once fall turns into winter. What many dont realize is that the same thing can happen to our pets who suffer from the same disease.
Experts arent completely certain what causes increased joint pain during periods of cold weather, but there are a few potential reasons behind it. First, when the weather turns colder, air pressure tends to drop. This can lead to the tissues beginning to swell, which inhibits mobility and makes moving more painful.
Another reason is that cold temperatures can cause the muscles surrounding the joints to stiffen. In animals not suffering from arthritis, this can be somewhat uncomfortable, but for dogs with existing joint pain, the result could be much more difficult to manage.
Finally, cold winter weather leads pet parents to stay inside more often, shortening daily walks and trips to the park. Arthritic dogs need to move to warm up and stretch their muscles, as this typically reduces stiffness and pain in the joints. If your pup is less active during the winter months, their joints may become even stiffer than usual, causing greater pain and more difficulty moving around the home.
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How To Relieve Pain Caused By Arthritis
There are a few measures one can take to reduce joint stiffness and pain in the cold season when suffering from arthritis.
1. Dress Warmer
Covering your joints properly to provide insulation during the cold season can go a long way in relieving the pain. Scarves, socks, jackets and warm winter clothes can also be work. This ensures that body heat is not lost and that the joints do not stiffness from the cold. Also, wearing clothes that are right can help to bring down the inflammation. There are therapy gloves available in the market for specifically helping people suffering from arthritis.
2. Stay Active
For everyone, exercise and keeping active is important for their wellbeing. It is even more important for people with arthritis. A little light exercise can go a long way in ensuring that stiffness doesnt occur. Yoga, stretching and walking are considered to be enough exercises for people with arthritis.
Regular massages on affected joints are also recommended as they get the blood flowing and this keeps the joints warm.
3. Eating Nutritious Meals
Eating foods that offer the body the required nutrients also plays a major role when it comes to relieving symptoms of arthritis. Calcium and vitamin D are the essential nutrients required by people suffering from arthritis. Calcium helps to regenerate the bones while vitamin D absorbs the calcium.
4. Adapt Better Lifestyle Habits
5. See a Doctor
Protecting Your Joints In The Winter
Here are steps you can take to help ease the or reduce the risk of your symptoms worsening in colder weather:
Wear warm, protective clothing. Layering your clothing is best for warmth. To protect your hands, wear mittens instead of gloves, but if you must wear gloves, look for compression gloves. Protect your feet with warm socks and boots.
Use heat packs. Small heat packs in your pockets can keep your hands warm while you are outside.
Use heating pads on your sore joints. Be sure to have fabric between the pad and your skin, and dont use a high enough heat to cause a burn. If you have diabetes, speak with your doctor or team before using heat on your feet or toes.
Move around as much as you can. Exercise can help loosen , reducing pain. If you live in an area with ice and snow that make walking outside dangerous, consider joining a gym or indoor activity, like dancing or tai chi. Walking around the mall is exercise too.
- Look into mood-altering techniques if you find your mood is affected in the winter, which could contribute to more pain. Try using a light for seasonal affective disorder , meditation, or yoga to keep a calm mind and reduce stress.
You dont have to dread the winter months with RA. If you find cold weather worsens your symptoms, talk with your doctor about treatments or other lifestyle tips that can keep you moving with less pain all year long.
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What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
- Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
- Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
Theory : Cold Weather Makes Your Joints Stiff
If part of your cold-weather experience as someone living with arthritis or other types of joint pain includes feelings of stiffness or a decrease in mobility, youre not alone. In fact, there may be a direct correlation between the temperature and your joints flexibility. The effects of low temperatures are fairly universal to all of the muscles in your body: they become tighter and more tense. If this principle is applied to your joints, the increased pain you feel in cold weather could be attributed to tension, and it may even explain why you suddenly become less mobile in the wintertime.
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Does Cold Weather Really Make Your Joint Pain Worse
At OAA, we know how important it is for patients to understand the source of their pain when seeking treatment and relief. While researchers continue to study the effects of winter on the joints, here are a few potential reasons why cold weather may be exacerbating your joint pain symptoms each year.
There are plenty of reasons to enjoy and look forward to the winter months, from beautiful leaves and snow to holiday fun . Unfortunately, many patients who struggle with joint pain actually come to dread this time of year, reporting that their symptoms become significantly worse as temperatures drop. But is this all anecdotal, or does cold weather really have an effect on your joints?
The board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians at OAA Orthopedic Specialists specialize in a variety of fields relating to joint pain, and we know how important it is for patients to understand the source of their pain when seeking treatment and relief. While researchers continue to study the effects of winter on the joints, here are a few potential reasons why cold weather may be exacerbating your joint pain symptoms each year:
Fighting Joint Pain At Countryside Orthopaedics
At Countryside Orthopaedics and Physical Therapy, our mission is to help patients of all ages feel comfortable and stay active all year long. If weather-related joint pain is slowing you down or holding you back, a professional physical therapy program can be a lifesaver. Our skilled therapists can help get you moving again while using techniques like manual therapy and ultrasound to relieve pain without medication. If cold weather means pain, lets talk about how we can move past it and hit the ground running this spring.
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Wear The Right Clothing
People with skin problems due to psoriasis may find natural, soft, breathable fabrics, such as cotton, are less likely to irritate or trigger skin changes.
To stay warm in winter, a person with psoriasis and PsA might try wearing a base layer of cotton and adding layers of warmer fabrics.
Wearing cotton base layers such as long-sleeved cotton tops, leggings, or long johns can help prevent contact between the skin and irritating fibers in outer garments.
Various brands of long johns and other thermal clothes are available online. A 100%-cotton fleece can provide a warm outer layer.
Managing Weather Aches & Barometric Pressure Pains
Unfortunately, arthritis symptoms will likely persist no matter what the weather conditions are or what climate one lives in. It is important to stay well-hydrated, especially if the weather is rainy or humid, to keep the joints internally lubricated. It may seem that outside moisture would find its way into the body, but that is not necessarily the case.
In a similar way, swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers to loosen up sore joints despite the weather.7 Swimming laps at an indoor pool or joining a water therapy program8,9 can make a huge difference for arthritis sufferers during rainy and humid seasons. It may seem counter intuitive to immerse the body in water when excess moisture in the air may be causing symptoms to worsen. But low-impact exercises like swimming can actually make a big difference for a joints range of motion over time. For immediate relief, over-the-counter arthritis creams like JointFlex can help arthritis sufferers enjoy the changing of seasons with less pain and discomfort. Individuals who suffer from weather-related arthritis symptoms should contact their doctors to discuss over-the-counter treatment options.
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