Further Studies Of Arthritis And Weather
Further support for an effect on the atmospheric pressure in arthritis was published in the Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society in 2004. In this prospective, double-blind study, 92 patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were compared to a control group of 42 subjects. The authors concluded that the osteoarthritis patients experienced increased joint pain with a low atmospheric pressure while low temperature increased the risk of joint pain in the rheumatoid arthritis group.
Another study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2004 demonstrated that high humidity was unfavorable for arthritis patients. Based on these two studies alone, it would seem that a location that tends to have higher barometric pressure and lower humidity would represent a favorable environment for people with arthritis.
Another study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2015 examined whether daily weather conditions, 3-day average weather conditions, and changes in weather conditions influence joint pain in older people with osteoarthritis in six European countries. Study results revealed that associations between pain and daily average weather conditions suggested a causal relationship between joint pain and weather variables, however, the associations between day-to-day weather changes and pain did not confirm causation.
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.
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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Between Slippery Sidewalks Aching Joints And Colds And Flu Winter Is Rough On Arthritis These Tips Can Help You Stay Healthy And Safe
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.
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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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.
Are You Weather Sensitive
Some people are more sensitive to weather than others. So you may feel more stiff and achy in the cold more than your neighbor. That doesnt either of you is wrong, it just means that we dont perceive things the same.
A 2014 study of people with osteoarthritis published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders asked participants if and how weather influenced their pain. Of the 712 people who answered the survey, 469 said they were weather sensitive. It turns out that weather-sensitive people with OA experience more joint pain overall than their non-weather-sensitive counterparts.
A 2011 article published in European Journal of Pain found similar results in people with rheumatoid arthritis . The researchers looked at nine previously published studies of people with RA and concluded pain in some individuals is more affected by the weather than in others, and that patients react in different ways to the weather.
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Cold Weather And Joint Pain
In one study, which looked at 245 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that older patients were more likely to report flare-ups during the colder weather.4
However, a more extensive analysis of nine studies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis failed to identify a link between the weather and pain.5
The Arthritis And Weather Connection
Many people with arthritis claim that weather affects how they feel. Some people believe that symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pain and joint stiffness, are influenced by changes in the weather. Is there actually a connection between arthritis and weather? If yes, why is the effect of weather changes on arthritis true for some people, but not for others? And, finally, if this connection exists, what is the best climate for someone with arthritis? Should they start packing and move as soon as possible?
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Joints May Love Sunny And Drier Days
Does your arthritis stiffness always feel better when visiting places like Phoenix? Theres a reason retirees flock to desert cities: the sunny days and dry weather could help reduce symptoms for some. One study found that rheumatoid arthritis disease symptoms were significantly lower in both sunny and less humid conditions.5 On the flip side, other research suggests that humid, cold days tend to be the worst for arthritis patients.6 Talk about a losing combination!
What Makes Arthritis Flare Up
When you’re suffering from a painful condition like arthritis, you’re almost always looking for ways to keep your symptoms at bay.
We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that when an achey joint is acting up it’s a sign that bad weather is on the way…but can it really be true that something like a change in weather can trigger your pain?
“It’s true the symptoms of arthritis can recede and flare up. It’s also true that a change in weather can sometimes trigger a flare-up, which is often magnified when a certain type of arthritis is not being well-managed,” says Dr. Syed Alam, rheumatologist at Houston Methodist.
“While you can’t control the weather, the good news is that you can avoid other triggers of arthritic flare-ups as long as you know what type of arthritis you have in the first place,” adds Dr. Alam.
Arthritis is a broad term for pain, tenderness or swelling in a particular joint , and the three most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis when your immune system attacks the structure of your joint
- Osteoarthritis wear and tear damage that breaks down the cushion in your joint
- Gout when sharp crystals form and deposit in a joint
“When it comes to flare-ups of these types of arthritis, the triggers themselves aren’t actually the source of your pain. They’re just things that aggravate the underlying issues of the arthritis,” explains Dr. Alam.
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How The Changing Seasons Affect Your Ra
As the seasons change, your rheumatoid arthritis may change too. Itâs different for everyone, but some people with RA notice that as the seasons shift, so do their symptoms.
Studies suggest autumn may be the sweet spot for RA while winter and spring are the most challenging. A recent study found that humidity made pain worse, especially in colder weather. Another study linked sunny, dry days to less pain and joint swelling.
How Do Changes In Weather Affect Arthritis
Its not just that weather can affect arthritis, its the change in weather that can trigger symptoms. Differences in temperature , precipitation , and increasing humidity all seem to play the most significant role in setting off aches and pains.
In that same 2015 study published in The Journal of Rheumatology, more than 800 participants with osteoarthritis were asked to record their pain levels over the course of a year using two-week pain calendars. Participants reported experiencing the most pain when the weather was rainy or increasingly humidespecially when the temperature outside was colder than usual.1
Since arthritis triggers arent the same for everyone, its always a good idea to keep note of how certain weather conditions and weather changes affect your pain levels. Then, you can talk with your doctor about a treatment plan that takes weather changes into consideration.
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Applying Heat Vs Cold To An Arthritic Joint
Using heat and/or cold therapies on an arthritic joint is a simple, inexpensive alternative treatment that can help to alleviate pain, stiffness and swelling. Read:Alternative Treatments
Heat can relax muscles and help lubricate joints. Heat therapy may be used to relieve muscle and joint stiffness, help warm up joints before activity, or ease a muscle spasm.
Learn more: When and Why to Apply Cold to an Arthritic Joint
Alternating heat and cold. Some people alternate between heat and cold therapy. For example:
- A patient may be encouraged to use heat therapy to warm up a joint before physical therapy exercise and to use cold therapy after exercise.
- A person can use heat therapy in the morning to loosen up an osteoarthritic knee and use cold therapy to reduce swelling a few hours later. This process can be repeated throughout the day.
Cold therapy is recommended for certain types of arthritis that cause painful inflammation flares, such as gout and pseudogout. People with other types of arthritisincluding but not limited to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitismay benefit from both heat and cold therapy.
There are no universally accepted guidelines for when to use heat or cold therapy on osteoarthritic joints, and recommendations are mixed.16 People with osteoarthritis are advised to experiment with both heat and cold therapy to find what works best for them.7
Your Intuition About The Weather
While there arent definitive studies that show that weather changes cause arthritis pain, research does reveal there may be an association.2 For example, one study shows a connection between joint pain and daily average weather conditions.3 In another study, researchers asked over 700 people how the weather influenced their arthritis pain, and about 67 percent of survey respondents reported that the weather was indeed affecting their pain.4
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Dont Take On Chores Alone
If you live with arthritis, its important that you maintain activity in your life to keep your joints from becoming stiff. However, certain tasks including some of the most common chores you may be performing during winter may do more harm than good when it comes to your joints. High-impact activities, including snow shoveling and leaf raking, can actually cause unnecessary pain or even long-term damage by putting too much strain on your affected joint or joints. This winter season, you might consider reaching out to a friend, family member, or neighbor for assistance. Its worth it to protect your body.
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.
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I Am Far Less Physically Active
Lets face it: Who wants to exercise outdoors with RA in the winter? Even to venture outside to go to a gym can be a mental battle. I have to really fight with myself and my fatigue on the days that it rains, which is often here. Vancouver is a rainforest and rainy days make me want to do nothing but drink tea and nap. However, as glorious as that sounds, when I am less active, my arthritis symptoms increase. When I nap too much, my sleep schedule gets even more out of whack.
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.
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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.
Why Is Arthritis Worse In The Winter
Jan 11, 2022Amy Paturel
If you suffer from arthritis, whether inflammatory or not, you’ve 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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Tips For Dealing With Arthritis Pain In Winter
How many times have you sworn that a storm was coming because your arthritis pain was flaring up? How many times has a bone-chilling cold caused your joints to swell and get inflamed with pain and stiffness?
Winter weather can be especially tough for those who suffer from arthritis, and there could be some truth to the old wives tale that aching joints can be an indicator of a change in weather. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation even cites studies that show lower barometric pressure caused more aches and pains for people in barometric pressure chambers.
Arthritis can be classified as either inflammatory or non-inflammatory. Inflammatory arthritis features inflammatory white blood cells in the joint fluid. Forms of inflammatory arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus arthritis, gout, and many others. Forms of non-inflammatory arthritis include osteoarthritis, arthritis of thyroid disease, arthritis after injury and many others. Studies have shown that cold weather can affect both inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritis.
With winter in full swing, cold weather pain and arthritis can be uncomfortable and affect your quality of life. The cold doesnt cause arthritis, but it can increase joint pain, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Here are some great tips to deal with arthritis pain during the winter months.
1. Stay warm and layer up
2. Eat a healthy diet
3. Get your stress under control
4. Stay active and exercise
6. Get your vitamin D
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