Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Does Heat Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis

What Are The Warning Signs Of Arthritis

Reversing Rheumatoid Arthritis – with Lisa Goodkind. Reversing RA symptoms

Pain from arthritis can be ongoing or can come and go. It may occur when you’re moving or after you have been still for some time. You may feel pain in one spot or in many parts of your body.

Your joints may feel stiff and be hard to move. You may find that it’s hard to do daily tasks you used to do easily, such as climbing stairs or opening a jar. Pain and stiffness may be more severe during certain times of the day or after you’ve done certain tasks.

Some types of arthritis cause swelling or inflammation. The skin over the joint may appear swollen and red and feel hot to the touch. Some types of arthritis can also cause fatigue.

Types Of Heat Therapy For Arthritis

There are several types of heat therapy, called thermotherapy, options for arthritis. Heat therapy improves circulation and causes your blood vessels to expand. This helps your body to deliver more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the affected area, which may reduce inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Heat therapy may also improve mobility, which makes it easier to relax, loosen up, and move.

If a heat therapy session causes swelling, redness, or inflammation avoid further treatments until your symptoms subside. Avoid using heat therapy during a flare-up or the acute stage of an injury. Talk with a healthcare professional before using heat treatments if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.

Do not use heat therapy if you have any of the following conditions:

  • diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis

Heat Therapy For Joint Pain

After a long day, soaking in a steaming shower or bathtub, sipping a cup of hot tea, or cozying up in a warm robe can make you feel comforted and soothed. Theres a reason you reach for heat when you need relief from pain or stress: Heat is relaxing. Stiff, tense, and sore muscles can be relaxed and relieved with a little heat, and joints affected by arthritis pain are no different. Not only does heat relax muscles, it also stimulates blood flow and improves circulation, helps increases range of motion, and reduces stiffness in painful joints.

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Lack Of Adequate Water May Intensify Joint Pain And Other Ra Symptoms

My rheumatoid arthritis symptoms definitely increase when I dont drink enough water, or if Im in extreme heat, says Eileen Davidson, a rheumatoid arthritis patient, advocate, and author of the Chronic Eileen blog. I tend to feel more stiffness in my joints and muscles. I have a spike in fatigue, sluggishness, and definite increase in cognitive dysfunction.

Water plays a vital role in helping different parts of the body function at their best. A lack of liquids can increase inflammation and lessen the amount of fluid that cushions joints. The good news: Simple measures can help you avoid the negative effects of dehydration.

Heres what you need to know about how dehydration affects someone with RA.

How Does Cold Weather Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis

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For several people who are struck with arthritis, the onset of winter means one thing a long, hard battle tackling daily aches and pains and dealing with a subsequent increase in discomfort. Studies have long revealed that during the colder parts of the year, individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis and other similar ailments suffer from increased pain in the joints. As a matter of fact, research has proven that a change in the barometric pressure is directly responsible for exacerbating joint discomfort and joint stiffness. This is because a sudden drop in the barometric pressure causes the joints in the body to swell up thus increasing the pressure on the nerves that are responsible for controlling the pain centers present in the body. Simply put, as the mercury levels drop, the body swells up, thereby causing the pains, stiffness, and aches to become more prominent.

Another theory is that during colder months, the body tends to conserve heat thus increasing the blood flow to organs lying in the body center such as the lungs and heart. When theres an increase in the blood flow, the arms, shoulders, legs, knee joints and blood vessels constrict. A lesser flow of blood thus leads to those areas feeling stiffer which, in turn, causes pain and discomfort.

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People With Arthritis Often Notice A Connection Between Humidity Or Temperature And Joint Pain Symptoms Heres What You Need To Know

Elisabetta Mercuri knows when its going to rain. My joints get achy, especially in my hands, she says. And when its cold and wet, the symptoms are even worse. It almost feels like theres ice in my fingers because they are so stiff, says Elisabetta, who has lived with psoriatic arthritis for close to four decades. And as Ive gotten older, my joints feel the weather changes even more.

Elisabetta is far from alone: Patients often say they can tell when its going to rain based on how their joints feel, says Anne R. Bass, MD, rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Humidity seems to be the biggest culprit, but we actually dont know why.

Theres the rub: People with arthritis often notice a connection between humidity or temperature and joint pain symptoms, and may even report it to their doctors. Its a complaint Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist with East Tennessee Medical Group, hears often.

Patients note that certain weather changes tend to produce more stiffness, more aching and more pain, he says. They feel their body is a weather machine that can predict when its going to rain or when a cold front is coming.

More recently, our parent organization, the Global Healthy Living Foundation, presented findings from an observational study at the American College of Rheumatologys annual meeting in 2018. Results showed a correlation between various weather patterns and peoples self-reported symptoms, but the link was not strong.

Managing Arthritis During The Summer

Life with arthritis is certainly a struggle, but its crucial to find ways to reduce symptoms and keep living life.

One way you can help to manage your symptoms is by understanding how things outside of your control can exacerbate arthritis pain. Once you understand it, take the proper action to protect yourself. For many people, arthritis symptoms seem to get worse in the summer months, and theres a good reason for that.

Keep reading to learn more about arthritis pain in the hot summer months and what you can do to help alleviate it.

Summer and arthritis explained.

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. The pressure changes outside can cause your joints to be more sensitive to pain. When the pressure changes, your joints will often feel tighter and stiff, creating a vicious cycle of swelling and pain.

If you live in coastal North Carolina, there is no avoiding the heat and humidity, so the best thing you can do it educate and protect yourself.

Hydration is key.

It is important to stay extra hydrated during the summer for these reasons, water helps keep cartilage soft and hydrated, and it promotes healthy blood volume, which allows nutrients to move through your blood and into your joints.


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Don’t Sell The House Just Yet

One thing Ruthberg advises against: fleeing to the arid Southwest in hopes of easing arthritis pain.

“If people ask me about moving, I caution them to be very careful about disrupting their entire life based on the hope that moving to another climate will make them a whole lot better,” he says.

Plus, there’s no real scientific proof that warmer, drier climates make a difference. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference in what would be called epidemiology when you look at the warmest, driest community in Arizona vs. a lakeside city in the Chicago area,” he says. “I don’t think we really know.”

If you’re seriously thinking of moving, Ruthberg suggests visiting a place first to see if it really makes a difference.

The Arthritis Foundation also notes that even if you’re certain a warmer, drier climate will make you feel better, any health benefits might be outweighed by having to leave behind your support system of family and friends.

Changes In Barometric Pressure

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Changes in barometric pressure is one possibility. When air pressure drops, it usually leads to clouds and rain higher pressure areas are typically clear and calm. Shifts in air pressure may make your tendons, muscles, and any scar tissue expand and contract, leading to pain in the joints affected by arthritis.

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Saunas And Steam Rooms

You can use a dry sauna, infrared sauna, or steam room to improve circulation and alleviate stiffness.

The results of a 2018 review suggest that consistent use of a dry sauna is beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis as well as chronic pain syndrome. It may also help athletes to improve performance.

You can stay in a dry sauna or steam room for up to 15 minutes though you may want to begin with shorter sessions. Give yourself plenty of time to cool down in between sessions.

If youre pregnant, talk with your doctor before using a sauna or steam room.

Why Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms Can Be Worse In Winter

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know how painful and stiff your joints can feel. You also probably know that the pain and stiffness can increase in cold weather, particularly if you live in parts of the country that experience long, cold winters. But why is this so? Why are symptoms worse during the winter and is there anything you can do to help relieve the pain while you wait for warm weather to return?

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What Should I Expect From Infrared Therapy

Whether you choose the BioMat or the infrared sauna, your treatment is safe, non-invasive and medication-free! But like anything new, it can sound a little intimidating. Heres the low-down on what to expect when you do a treatment.


The BioMat is a wonderful, comfortable mat to lie on, and it sends high-energy infrared light through you. You can use the BioMat in 15 or 30 minute blocks, and it really is as simple as kicking back and making yourself comfortable. I enjoy meditating when I use the BioMat whatever you do, make sure your cellphone is off so you can relax. The BioMat warms you up as the rays penetrate your skin and tissues its a pleasant sensation. I generally advise starting off at a low setting at 15 minutes each session to get you used to the sensation.

Remember to:

  • Drink water beforehand and afterwards.
  • Turn off your cellphone.
  • Always use the quilted cover and pillow supplied for your session.
  • Plan to relax the rest of the dayuntil you know how your body will respond to treatments.

Infrared Sauna

  • Drink water beforehand and afterwards.
  • Bring a book or meditate.
  • Avoid falling asleep .
  • Give yourself time to cool down naturally before bathing .
  • Plan to relax the rest of the dayuntil you know how your body will respond to treatments.

At Arizona Wellness Medicine we have infrared therapy available via our mPulse Believe Sunlighten infrared sauna , and our BioMat.

How The Summer Heat Affects Arthritis


While summer is a great time to have fun, be active, and go on new adventures, not everyone is able to enjoy the beautiful season as much as everyone else. People living with arthritis already understand the pain and discomfort associated with the condition, but did you know that the summer heat can contribute to even more intensified pain and inflammation in the joints?

Its true the high summer temperatures can leave individuals with arthritis in more pain and discomfort than usual, making it tough to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

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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 .

Limit Exposure To Sun And Heat

  • I have to be very careful being in the sun the heat is hard on me. I do all my outside work and run all my errands early in the morning.
  • I stay inside the house, use light cotton clothes and go to the beach in the late afternoon around 5 pm, just for a short stay.
  • I wear lightweight and light-colored, often sleeveless outfit.
  • I carry around a water bottle, a spray bottle and an umbrella just in case I need to cool off more outdoors.
  • I always wear light clothing, and a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses and I carry a bottle of water with me.
  • I try not to go out between 12:00-3:00 when it’s the hottest.

So many of you shared how important it is to monitor the weather and limit your exposure to the sun and heat. Planning errands in the morning when the sun is less intense or wearing lighter clothing are great tips to keep cool if you do need to head out!

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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:

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2. Try hot and cold packs. A heating pad or an ice pack can increase your pain threshold wherever you apply it, thus helping to decrease the sensation of pain, Dr. Ormseth says. Dr. Lee recommends cold therapy if joints are swollen because heat can worsen swelling. Apply a cold pack, like a bag of frozen vegetables, to swollen joints two to four times a day for 15 minutes each time. You can use heat if joints are painful but not swollen during your flare. Try a heating pad, warm compress, heat patch, or warm bath for the affected joints two or three times a day for 15 minutes at a time. Just make sure you dont overdo either treatment, hot or cold.

3. Soothe your body and mind. Give yourself some extra TLC to help your body recover from a flare. Though its not always easy, try to relax, Ormseth says. Practice relaxation techniques to help your mind and body calm down and recover. Engage in deep breathing, meditation, and visualization. Try a little pampering soaking in a warm bath, listening to soothing music, enjoying quiet time, or sipping on a steaming mug of tea the Arthritis Foundation suggests. Also, adds Smith, do your best to avoid physically and emotionally stressful situations.

4. Call for backup. The world doesnt stop when your RA flares, and neither do your responsibilities. When RA knocks you down, put a second action plan in place to address lifes other essentials work, family, and household chores.

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Flare Types And Triggers

  • Predictable flares have a known trigger. For example, you decide to clean your house from top to bottom one day, overdo it and end up with swollen, stiff joints the next day. Overexertion, poor sleep, stress or an infection like the flu can all set off RA symptoms. With a predictable flare youll temporarily feel worse, but your symptoms will resolve in time.
  • Unpredictable flares have more uncertainty associated with them. These flares cause patients to feel worse, but did not have a trigger that was causing symptoms to get worse. These flares might not get better on their own.

Does Alternating Heat And Cold Therapy Help

Many people find it beneficial to alternate between heat and cold therapy. You can switch between hot and cold therapies throughout the day. Usually, its best to wait at around 20 minutes between sessions, though you can also alternate between hot and cold water in the shower. Always start and finish with a cold treatment.

Talk with your doctor before alternating between full-body treatments such as an ice bath and a sauna or hot tub.

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