Friday, January 27, 2023

Is Cold Weather Bad For Arthritis

Take Your Meds In Bed

Cold weather exercise tips for arthritis sufferers

Crawling out of a warm, cozy bed on a cold day is no fun. Add in arthritis pain and it can be pure torture. Keep your daily arthritis and pain medications within reach of your bed. I keep all my medications and a fresh bottle of water on my bedside table so all I have to do is reach over and take them, says Amy K., 42, who has ankylosing spondylitis. You can even try to sneak in an extra bit of sleep in the morning while you wait for them to kick in.

Here are more tips to soothe morning stiffness and pain with arthritis.

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

What Types Of Activities Should I Focus On

You dont have to be an athlete. Activities like gentle stretching, yoga, walking, and even ballroom dancing can help keep your joints stay in good working order. How often should you do physical activity? As often as possible. Consistency in exercise is what will be the most beneficial to you.

The variety will help weed out boredom. So, yoga twice a week, some dancing once a week, and walking every day will be beneficial when dealing with cold weather and arthritis. Only do activities that you can do fairly easily and that have been approved by your doctor, physical therapist, or a licensed healthcare provider.

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How Does The Cold Weather Make Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse

How Does Cold Weather Affect Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Almost everyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis notices their symptoms getting progressively worse during cold weather. And while there are ways to go around this problem such as wearing warm and lightweight clothing, stretching, and staying inside well-heated rooms, most arthritis sufferers would like to know why exactly does arthritis seem to flare when the temperature drops. Unfortunately, nobody knows the answer to this question. Although this stance may sound disappointing, there are some theories out there that could make understanding the link between arthritis pain and weather conditions easier and that we will cover in this article.

No scientific evidence

The number one reason why medical experts don?t know how the weather influences arthritis symptoms is mostly because there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that this is the case. A study on the topic of arthritis and cold weather that was published in a 1999 issue of the journal Pain states that although RA patients report weather sensitivity, the relationship is not clinically significant. On the other hand, a study published a few years ago in Reumatologia Clinica found a 16% increase in flares due to cold weather.

What others experts have to say

Is it the weather or something else?

Cold and arthritis pain

Other factors involved

Other conditions that are affected by weather

What you can do about it

Break Out Your Yoga Mat

Winter Arthritis Pain

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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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.

Do Light Exercise To Help With Stiffness

Weight-bearing exercise is particularly important for people with RA, and much more so in the fall and winter as it keeps your joints and muscles moving. Exercise is also an important aspect to keep you from developing osteoarthritis, but even more so, it can help prevent the dreaded morning stiffness.

Of course, this doesnt mean you need to become a triathlete overnight, but it does mean you should start incorporating an exercise routine into your schedule. If youre out of shape, try making small goals at first like walking the dog around the block every day or taking a short walk down the road for some fresh air.

You can also start off with some swimming , or taking a gentle yoga class. A full-on workout routine isnt necessary, as long as youre getting in some cardio every day and making sure youre doing weight-bearing exercises.

However, it is important to note that exercising during a flare is not helpful. You should always get your doctors go-ahead before you start a new exercise routine.

But, exercising when youre not in a flare can help prevent flares in the future, so it isnt a great idea to go too long without establishing one. If you find that exercise is painful, take a pain pill 30 minutes to an hour before you start your exercise routine. This should help cut down on pain significantly.

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How To Prevent Getting Sick With Ra

When you have RA, you may find yourself more susceptible to illnesses, which can make your RA worse. During the fall and winter, viruses go around a lot quicker due to the shifts in temperature and more time people spent indoors and close to one another, so it is important to take the necessary precautions for fighting off the cold or flu.

This includes remembering to wash your hands any time you come in contact with something communal , staying hydrated, and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

If you work with vulnerable populations, such as elderly people or young people under the age of five, ensure you are extra vigilant with your health practices. These populations are both more likely to carry a cold or the flu, and you are more likely to pass it on to them.

You should also speak to your doctor about getting the flu shot to ensure you dont get the dreaded disease. The flu can knock you off your feet for quite a long time and make your RA a lot worse than it needs to be, so prevention is a great way to make sure you dont fall victim to it.

Wear The Right Clothing

Cold Weather and Joint Pain

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.

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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

Find Ways To Stay Warm

If you find cold weather makes you feel worse, it is important you wrap up and stay warm in the winter. If you find yourself cold at night, wrap up with an extra blanket or two or slip a hot water bottle between your sheets. Or if you live somewhere cold, always wear a scarf as this can make you feel much warmer than you realize.

If you have Raynauds, you may find that your hands and feet are more sensitive to the cold. Glove liners work well when youre indoors, but when you go outside, you can purchase hand and foot warmers to insert into your gloves and shoes. This will keep you nice and toasty and combat the pain of Raynauds!

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Practice Good Sleep Habits

Some people find that having fewer hours of daylight disrupts their sleep cycle, making them feel tired during the day.

For people with PsA, a lack of sleep can worsen chronic pain and other symptoms. This can affect their quality of life.

The following can help establish good sleep habits:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule.
  • Ensure the room is dark, quiet, and neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco before bedtime.
  • Limit or avoid screen time before bed and leave devices in another room, if possible.
  • Exercise each day, as this helps people sleep better at night.

Vitamin D is a hormone essential for maintaining healthy bones and skin. The body produces most of its vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but levels can fall during the winter months.

A looked into the relationship between vitamin D3 and PsA. People with PsA who had low vitamin D3 levels also had greater disease activity. Lower vitamin D levels were also associated with more severe skin lesions in people with psoriasis.

A 2015 review investigated the efficacy of vitamin D pills and topical vitamin D treatments for psoriasis. The researchers found that both types of vitamin D treatments could reduce symptoms.

Food sources of vitamin D include oily fish and fortified dairy products. A doctor may also recommend vitamin D supplements in some cases.

Arthritis Pain Relief Tips For Winter Weather

Why is arthritis pain worse in winter? Tips for managing ...

Dress warmly, work out inside, and get enough vitamin D. These are some of the ways you can get arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather.

Many people with arthritis swear by the pain in their joints as a predictor of rainy or cold weather. I used to hear people complain all the time that they knew rain was coming from the aching in their knees, says Pam Snow, 54, of Denver, who has arthritis. Now Im one of those people!

Snow has osteoarthritis in both knees. She typically manages her pain with exercise, diet, weight loss, and the occasional over-the-counter pain reliever, but when winter weather sets in, Snow faces an extra joint-pain challenge. I think its related to barometric pressure, she says. It definitely has made me more cognizant of the weather.

For Snow, arthritis isnt just a personal problem. As vice president for community involvement for the Colorado Arthritis Foundation, she travels the state educating others about the condition. So she’s aware that there’s very little scientific evidence to support her own experience, and that of the legions of others with arthritis who feel worse when the weather is frightful.

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Lifestyle Changes In Cold Weather

Lets face it. Even the most outdoorsy of us sometimes prefer a warm cozy fireplace to being outdoors. As such, we tend to slow down a bit during the winter months. This decrease in physical activity negatively impacts those with arthritis, so its no coincidence that those of us who prefer the sunshine to the snow may decide to cool it until the sun comes out in spring.

Can The Weather Really Worsen Arthritis Pain

If you have arthritis, you may have noticed that the weather affects your symptoms. I hear it from my patients all the time.

If its true that the weather can worsen arthritis pain, how does that work? Is there any scientific evidence to explain it? People have been asking these questions for many years without finding good answers. But thats not keeping researchers from trying to understand it better.

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Studies Look At Perception Vs Reality

In one study of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, participants were asked directly if weather affected their condition. And, perhaps not surprisingly, many said that yes, in fact, it does.

“A lot of people perceive weather as having an effect on their condition,” says Ruthberg. “Most of the time people will complain that colder weather or damper weather makes them feel worse than sunnier, warmer, drier weather.”

Since perception doesn’t necessarily equal reality, researchers have approached it from another angle and had people keep diaries about their pain or stiffness over a month or longer, then matched the reports up with official weather data.

“Some of them have shown some correlation, but it hasn’t been seen in every single study, and it has not been shown to be just a huge, huge factor,” Ruthberg says.

A 1960 study did lend some support to a weather connection. After University of Pennsylvania researcher Joseph Hollander monitored 12 arthritis patients in a climate-controlled chamber over several weeks, most, he said, felt worse when they were subjected to a combination of increased humidity and falling barometric pressure.

What If The Weather Really Does Affect My Arthritis

Dr. Stephen Duncan answers a common question about cold weather and arthritis pain

If you still feel like certain weather conditions or changes in the weather are affecting the symptoms of your arthritis, there are things you can try to ease the pain.

For example, many of my patients find it helps to keep as warm as possible. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol taken regularly often help too.

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to ease arthritic symptoms and provides the extra benefit of increasing your body temperature .

Finally, if youre really struggling with pain during colder and damper periods, a holiday in warmer climes might just be the best solution!

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Does Cold Weather Affect Osteoarthritis

The damp and cold weather affects people suffering from osteoarthritis, as climate may cause an increase in joint pain while changes take place in daily exercise schedules. Most of the patients suffering from osteoarthritis predict rainfall because of high-level pain in joints. According to statistics, approximately 68% of surveyed people have experienced mild to severe pain because of changes in weather. Especially, many OA patients reported feeling the change in their pain before the occurrence of cold weather.

On the other side, a few of the experts have highlighted that a change in atmospheric or barometric pressure is the prime reason related to increases in pain among osteoarthritis patients instead of rain, cold or snow. Here, barometric pressure refers to the force exerted on any surface at any specific point by the atmospheric weight. Barometric pressure reduces gradually with the development of a storm system.

Humidity Changes May Affect Arthritis Symptoms

One study observed that humidity or the moisture present in the air, whether accompanied by high or low temperature, leads to damaging of the aching joints. Even though it was conducted on an animal model, it provides sufficient information on the destruction of cartilage and bone cells during the cold weather.

Another study conducted on people who were suffering from osteoarthritis found that humidity along with cold weather causes a sudden hike in the joint pain.

Children are also at risk of developing arthritis. The most common type is known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The expression of this disease such as pain in the joints may increase due to sudden changes in the temperature and weather.

Cold weather negatively influences these symptoms.

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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.

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