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.
How To Protect Your Joints From The Cold:
- Stay Warm: while this can be easier said than done, taking steps to keep yourself warmer can help to reduce joint pain from cold weather. Using electric blankets, wearing the proper warm clothing, and warming the car and house are all ways to keep your joints warmer.
- Stay active: even when it is cold, it is important to stay mildly active to prevent joint pain from inactivity. Simply taking some time to do daily stretches can help to keep your joints moving.
- Manage swelling: if you start to notice swelling in your joints, be sure to take additional measures to prevent swelling. This can include wearing snug gloves or clothes, as well as using bands or braces to manage swelling.
- Improve your mood: your psychological well-being directly affects your ability to tolerate pain. Therefore, improving your mood by doing things that make you happy can help to manage your joint pain. Additionally, it is important to make sure you are eating healthy and getting enough sleep.
- Pain medications: finally, it may be necessary to take pain medications to help manage your discomfort. Your doctor can provide information about the type, dose, and frequency of pain medications.
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Theory : Pain May Be Mind Over Matter
The fourth theory researchers have considered has less to do with physical, orthopedic effects on your joints and more to do with whats going through your mind on a cold, miserable winters day. While too many patients have described an increase in joint pain during winter to ignore, some scientists believe there may be a psychological factor to these reports. This isnt to suggest that youre making up an increase in pain — in fact, its just the opposite. You may be feeling more pain on a warm, sunny, beautiful day than you realize, with your good mood detracting from your awareness of your pain. On a cold day with little else to focus on, youre simply more aware of how much your joints hurt.
Whatever the reason is behind your increase in joint pain and stiffness during the wintertime, you deserve quick, effective relief to keep your season merry and bright. At OAA, we have a number of departments dedicated to treating your joint pain at the source, from our Pain Management focused physicians to the arthritis team at the OAA Rheumatology Institute. We even have a dedicated Joint Replacement Center should this be the appropriate long-term solution for you. Our specialists work with joints every day, giving you peace of mind beyond that provided by your general orthopedic practitioner.
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Possible Causes For More Pain When Its Cold
Whether studies have proven that cold weather causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms to worsen doesnt help you if you find your own pain and stiffness go up when the temperature drops. Even if theres no scientific explanation for the cause, you can still talk with your doctor about ways to manage this change in symptoms.
Some doctors theorize that pain and stiffness may worsen because of the drop in barometric pressure. The pain and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation in the membranes lining your joints. A drop in barometric pressure could cause the tissues to expand, putting more pressure on an already crowded joint. This would cause the pain and stiffness to worsen.
But if the barometric pressure causes body tissues to expand, why doesnt everyone feel painor more painwhen it gets cold? Because barometric pressure doesnt affect everyone. For example, some people with migraines see their pain increase or worsen when the weather and barometric pressure change, but others dont.
Another possible cause is how our body responds when we first step outside in the cold. Its not unusual to feel our bodies stiffen up and remain stiff until were back into a warmer environment. The same thing occurs if youre sitting in a cold home or office. The cold can slow blood circulation and cause muscle .
Exercise Is Good For Osteoarthritis And Should Be Completed Daily To Help Joints Stay Limber And Lubricated
To manage osteoarthritic joints during the colder months, people need to plan physical activities that are easy to do during winter, such as:
- Walking indoors, such as around shopping centers, grocery stores, or the hallways of their house
- Swimming or pool exercises class
- Taking an aerobics or yoga class
- Listening to music and dancing
- Using the stairs instead of the elevator
- Use your hallways for exercises: sidestepping, high knee walking, lunge walks
The danger of increased joint pain during the winter is a potential risk of immobility. Painful joints tend to make us less active, leading to further joint stiffness and muscle weakness.
Reduced activity is linked to changes in strength, balance, and is a leading reason why people fall as they age. Staying active to maintain joint mobility, muscle strength, and overall activity safety are key factors to continuing to live a safe and functional life no matter the temperature outside or the amount of osteoarthritis you have.
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Consider Acetaminophen Or Nsaids
Even if, like Snow, you prefer to treat your joint pain with lifestyle changes rather than medication, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever when your joint pain seems to worsen with the weather. The ACR guidelines include a recommendation to use these over-the-counter pain relievers for osteoarthritis. However, Libman says that, “to avoid side effects, take the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time, and always check with your doctor first to make sure it is safe for you to take.
What Triggers An Osteoarthritis Flare
If you suffer from osteoarthritis, you may experience a flare, where flare implies the period of increased disease-related activity or worsening of symptoms. During this phase, your regular medications fail to give relief from your symptoms or help to control your disease. Most of the patients may add flares, which affect their other aspects of life.
Trauma or injury to your affected joint may cause a flare-up of osteoarthritis. Accordingly, cartilage gives shock absorption at the time of physical movements. Hence, if your cartilage breaks down, it makes your joints vulnerable to suffer from flare-ups, as your bones rub together. Secondly, you may suffer from osteoarthritis flare-ups because of bone spurs or osteophytes. Bone spurs are small bones pieces, which grow on various breakdown joints.
In some cases, both cartilage and bone pieces lose and cause a relatively higher level of pain. Other than this, you may experience osteoarthritis-related flare-ups because of a few of the additional factors. These include injuries related to physical exercise, stress, cold weather, repetitive movements, weight gain, infections and drop in atmospheric or barometric pressure.
Approximately 80% of old adults aging from 55 years to elderly ones have evidence related to osteoarthritis on X-rays. However, only 60% of the total patients experience only symptoms. Other than this, old women have increased incidences related to knee osteoarthritis as compared to men.
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Wearing Warmer Clothes For Better Insulation Of Joints
The best way to reduce pain during the cold weather is to cover the joints properly with warm clothes. Gloves, scarves, socks, jacket, and other winter clothes can be worn.
This prevents the extremities of the body from losing heat.
Sometimes tight clothing is a good way to reduce the inflammation and provide relief from the body ache. T
hese include some specially designed clothes for arthritis like therapy gloves.
However, this technique is not always helpful and sometimes may even lead to worsening of the disease.
Reduced Physical Activity In Winter May Aggravate Arthritis
The workout routine of a person matters a lot.
In a majority of cases, people who are highly active during the warmer days, that is, summer decrease their physical activity by a significant amount in winters.
This may also happen because of the shorter length of the day during the winter season. As soon as the cold weather arrives, it becomes really hard for everybody to get up from the warm bed and move out of the house to get some exercise.
People suffering from arthritis generally engage themselves in lesser outdoor physical activity than those who do not have this disease. They find their body to become stiff and the joints hurt when moved during winter.
This can be prevented to an extent by exercising the joints on a daily basis. People need not go outside for this. Even working out for a short period of time inside the house would do wonders for their health.
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How Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis
We all know someone who could tell when a storm was coming. They are not the local weather persons on television, but they can just tell by how their knees, hands, back, shoulders, or other joints would start to ache.
When the weather turns chilly or rain is in the forecast, many people complain about joint pain. Stiffness and soreness are problems often associated with arthritis.
Why Does The Cold Affect Dog Arthritis
According to Dr. Ahn, cold weather can reduce a dog’s ability to move around her joints leading to a flare-up in symptoms associated with arthritis.
Some of these signs include:
- Slowness when getting up from a sitting or lying position
- Reluctance to walk up or down stairs
- No motivation to play
- Limping or hopping
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Thickening Of Joint Fluid
Synovial fluid is the shock-absorbing fluid inside the joint. Synovial fluid is normally the consistency of an egg white to allow for proper and unencumbered joint movement. However, in colder temperatures synovial fluid thickens, which impedes its ability to flow freely. As a result, the joints can become stiff or creaky.
Steer Clear Of People Who Are Sick
Use common sense and avoid people around you who are coughing or otherwise under the weather, says Dr. Domingues. To stay safe at home, be sure others in your household get their flu shots and other recommended immunizations to prevent the spread of flu. If youre under the weather, stay home from work or social activities to give yourself time to rest and recover.
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Does Cold Weather Cause Arthritis Or Make It Worse
Winter brings with it a plethora of health complications. Some of these conditions are referred to as seasonal illnesses since the symptoms flare up during the cold season. During winter, one of the conditions that flare up is arthritis.
Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world. Characterized by symptoms like pain in the joints and swelling, it is claimed that the symptoms get worse during the cold seasons.
Shed Those Extra Kilos
For obese or overweight people, its imperative that they lose weight as it can reduce the pain associated with arthritis. As per an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, it has been suggested that weight loss combined with exercise and a dietary plan can directly lead to a lasting improvement for people suffering from chronic joint pain. Moreover, losing weight leads to an increase in mobility while reducing the stress on the joints. This helps in decreasing pain and also preventing further damage to the joints.
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How Can You Treat Weather
When the weather changes overnight, and you wake up to an extra ache in your joints, there are a few tricks to keep in your back pocketparticularly for people with osteoarthritis. That said, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or another inflammatory form of arthritis, you likely already have a treatment plan in place for flare-ups, which may involve a course of corticosteroids prescribed by your doctor. Of course, these tips can still be helpful in addition to your prescription medications but talk with your doctor first. Here are a few things to try, according to the CDC:
- A stash of over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help tame unexpected weather-related joint pain. These can take the edge off, at least until that barometric pressure has a chance to rise. If thats not doing the trick, you can always talk with your doctor about a prescription-strength option to get that arthritis pain relief.
- Gentle physical activity, such as yoga or range of motion exercises, can help ease pain and stiffness.
- Physical therapy gives you the tools to practice at home consistently, which can be helpful to ward off flare-ups and reduce pain when you do have one.
- Practicing grounding techniques, like deep breathing, can help take your focus away from anxious thoughts or feeling down when the weather is to blame for aches and pains.
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 .
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Why Does Cold Weather Affect My Arthritis
Anyone who struggles with arthritis knows all about the aches and pains that seem to come along with cold weather. The temperature drops, and like clockwork, you start to feel it in your muscles and joints.
If this sounds all too familiar, you may find yourself wondering, why does cold weather affect my arthritis? This article will break it down for you, along with tips for combating arthritis during months with colder weather.
Bring The Heat With Chili Peppers
One way to combat cold-induced pain is with some spicy heat in the form of capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Rub a capsaicin lotion or gel over painful joints to help ease the pain and reduce swelling, says Don R. Martin, MD, a rheumatologist with Sentara RMH Rheumatology in Harrisonburg, Virginia. You may feel a slight burning sensation but that should subside within a minute or two. A meta-analysis published in the journal Systematic Reviews found scientific evidence dating back decades showing that capsaicin has pain-relieving properties for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
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Why Does The Cold Cause Pain And Stiffness
There is no one explanation for why dropping temperatures affect your joints. One theory relates to drops in barometric pressure, which cause tendons, muscles and the surrounding tissues to expand. Because of the confined space within the body, this can cause pain, especially in joints affected by arthritis.
What Can You Do To Reduce Your Osteoarthritis Joint Pain In Cold Winter Weather
Stay warm.When heading outside, dress in layers to keep yourself warm, wear an extra sweater and take your hat/gloves when you go outside. Use a heating pad or heated blanket.
Use your daily shower as therapy. Use a warm bath or warm shower to increase your joints mobility and decrease your pain by moving your joints in comfortable repeated movements to loosen the joints and improve joint mobility.
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