Make Yourself A Hot Pocket In Bed
Cold definitely increases pain and stiffness for Angela K., 50, who has rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. One of her favorite tricks is to sleep with two heated blankets one on top, one on bottom, forming a heated cocoon she can lie in. On cold mornings, Ill often just soak in the warmth for a good 15 minutes before getting up, she says.
Soak Up The Heat In A Sauna Or Hot Tub
Theres a reason heat is often the first thing recommended for joint pain it really helps, Dr. Askanase says. Heat and moisture together often work better to reduce arthritis pain than either on its own so take advantage of this by spending some time in a hot sauna or steam room . If you prefer to stay at home, a hot bath often does the trick, she says. Keep all the doors closed and the fan off so the steam can build up in your bathroom.
Does Weather Affect Arthritis Pain
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Medical myths die hard. Maybe thats because theres no agreement on whether a common belief is indeed a myth.
For example, theres the longstanding belief that weather affects arthritis pain. Many of my patients notice a clear connection some are so convinced of the link, they believe they can predict the weather better than the TV meteorologists. And maybe thats true.
But thats not what the science says. A recent study finds no connection between rainy weather and symptoms of back or joint pain. This conclusion was based on a staggering amount of data: more than 11 million medical visits occurring on more than two million rainy days and nine million dry days. Not only was there no clear pattern linking rainy days and more aches and pains, but there were slightly more visits on dry days.
Still not convinced? Thats understandable. Maybe its not rain or shine that matters maybe its barometric pressure, changes in weather, or humidity that matters most. Or maybe the study missed some key information, such as when symptoms began or got worse after all, it can take days or even weeks after symptoms begin to see a doctor.
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Does Damp Or Wet Weather Really Make Arthritis Pain Worse If So How
Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, explains.
People with arthritis often believe that changes in the weather cause flare-ups of their disease. Decades of medical research, however, have failed to establish an objective relationship between arthritis severity and weather patterns. Moreover, detailed interviews with specific patients have yielded mostly anecdotes, and those who move to drier climates do not report major relief.
The specific idea of dampness affecting arthritis symptoms seems an unlikely mechanism for a number of reasons. The skin surrounding joints is rather impervious to water and most people stay dry indoors during rain anyway. In addition, arthritis patients do not experience dramatic changes in their symptoms when immersed in water . Wet weather may also be associated with other climatic conditions, such as decreases in barometric pressures. But even this connection seems implausible, given that much greater pressure swings are tolerated easily during plane travel or mountain driving in a car.
Another weather component is humidity, which might enter the body through the respiratory tract. But this seems an unlikely contributor because hospitalized patients are often given humidified air to breathe and this has little apparent effect on arthritis conditions. Furthermore, a long shower does not usually induce arthritis pain.
Answer originally published September 6, 2004.
Does The Weather Affect Arthritis
The impact of the weather on the symptoms of arthritis has been debated for many years.
As a rheumatologist, patients with many different forms of arthritis come to me and say their symptoms are always worse in the damp and cold, or even that they can tell when the weather is about to change by the way their joints feel.
Beyond damp and cold weather, patients also report that changes in barometric pressure seem to coincide with worsening of the pain and stiffness in their joints.
If you suffer from joint pain, these complaints might sound familiar. Yet despite how common they are, theres still no definitive evidence that the link between weather and arthritis pain exists.
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Weather And Seasonal Changes Can Make Arthritis A Literal Pain Heres The Scoop On How The Weather May Impact Your Aches
No one said dealing with arthritis was a walk in the park . On top of all the soreness and pain, some people say their arthritis symptoms feel worse when theres a change in weather.1 Does this sound familiar: Youre going about your day and notice some storm clouds coming in. Rather than worrying too much over whether youve packed an umbrella, your real concern is about your joints. Because every time theres a shift in weather, like clockwork, your arthritis pain comes on.
But is this phenomenon realdoes weather really impact arthritis? Or is it a myth that keeps getting passed along, generation after generation? Heres what the research says:
Can The Weather Really Worsen Arthritis Pain
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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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Do A Home Paraffin Wax Treatment
You may have seen these strange-looking treatments at nail salons and spas but they benefit more than just beauty. Paraffin is a type of wax that melts at a relatively low temperature, which allows you to dip your hands, forearms, feet, and lower legs into it without being burned. This may sound a little strange but it can really help reduce pain and swelling from arthritis, Dr. Osterman says. The wax coats your skin and as it dries it holds the heat in longer than a traditional foot soak or warm compress . Anything that uses heat can help reduce stiffness and pain, he says. Plus you could end up with softer, smoother skin.
Understanding The Connection Between Arthritis And Cold Weather
While cold weather doesnt cause arthritis, existing arthritis symptoms like pain and stiffness may be made worse when the temperature drops. Researchers and numerous studies have evaluated the connection between cold weather and arthritis pain. Some studies have found a connection between barometric pressure and arthritis pain. Others found a direct link between temperature and arthritis pain, and even some found that the connection between arthritis and cold weather was strongest when coupled with high humidity. If thats true, then cold, wet weather is worst for your joints. Warm, dry weather, on the other hand, is best. Strong winds may even play a role in weather-related arthritis.
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What Types Of Climates Are Best For Arthritis Sufferers
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by joint pain that can go into remission, osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is ever present. Joints are swollen, stiff, and painful, easing perhaps with activity but chronic and progressive without treatment.
For most arthritis sufferers, the best places to live with arthritis have climates that are warm and dry. While it may sound like an old wives tale that a person can predict the rain with an ache in their knee, it could actually be accurate. Cold, damp climates cause the tissues in the body to expand. This expansion can place more pressure on the nerves in the joints, causing an increase in pain as a storm heads in.
People may be less likely to exercise when the weather outside is frightful, as well, and this can also lead to an increase in painful symptoms.
On the other hand, warm, dry climates with a relatively stable high barometric pressure may ease the stress on joints. This means that people with arthritis may have fewer painful episodes than those who live with dramatic, cold, and wet weather.
What The Research On Arthritis Pain Shows
One study looked for a relationship between weather and arthritis pain in 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia as well as 32 people without arthritis. All participants lived in Cordoba City, Argentina, which has a warm climate. Participants kept a journal for one year recording the presence and features of any pain, and these daily reports were matched with weather conditions such as temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity.
Patients in all three groups experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions. In addition, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high pressure osteoarthritis patients by high humidity and those with fibromyalgia by high pressure. However, the associations were not strong enough to allow pain to predict weather, or vice versa.
Another study looked at 154 people who lived in Florida and had osteoarthritis of the neck, hand, shoulder, knee, or foot. Participants reported their arthritis pain scores for up to two years, then researchers matched the scores with the daily temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation status. No significant associations were found between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site, except for a slight association between rising barometric pressure and hand pain in women.
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Arthritis And Cold Weather: Myths From The Facts
Arthritis is a very common condition characterized by joint inflammation that affects millions ofindividuals each year. Any person living with arthritis can attest to the pain, swelling, stiffness,and discomfort resulting from this condition. These individuals also understand the daily realityof how small changes in your lifestyle or surroundings, such as weather, can make a significantimpact on their joints.
Its commonly thought that cold temperatures lead to increased pain for joints, but is that thetruth?
Together, lets debunk some of the most common arthritis mythsrelating to winter weather:
Myth: Cold Temperatures Cause Arthritis To WorsenWhile many people living with arthritis notice increased pain and discomfort in their joints duringthe winter and cold weather, the reason isnt the temperature. As the atmospheric pressuredrops when winter rolls around, this pressure change can cause your joints to swell more thanusual, leading to increased pain.
Myth: There Is No Way To Help Your Arthritis During WinterThere are several measures you can take to help protect your joints from winter weather andhelp minimize your pain and swelling:
Stay indoors as much as possible Remain active and find new ways to get your body moving Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables Apply cooling products such as lotions and creams Keep hydrated
Dont forget to speak with your doctor about other ways to care for and treat your arthritis painand swelling.
Why Does Cold Rain Make You Hurt
Scientists dont know for sure why changes in weather can make some people hurt, or why it affects some people more than others. But they do have a few theories.
Dr. Starz believes at least some of the increased pain comes from decreased activity. We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain. And when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain.
Other scientists offer physical reasons behind the pain. Changes in barometric pressure can cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissues, resulting in pain in the tissues that are affected by arthritis. Low temperatures may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, making them stiffer and perhaps more sensitive to pain during movement.
Dr. Starz agrees, The mind-body connection is strong. If warm sunny weather makes you feel better psychologically, youll probably feel better physically as well.
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Dealing With Arthritis Pain
Cold weather helps my arthritis. When I eat raisins soaked in gin, I feel better. Slurping a sip of cider vinegar helps with my pain. If you suffer from arthritis, no doubt youve heard some of these statements. As with many conditions, searching for successful ways to deal with arthritis through mainstream and alternative methods is very common. If youre asking yourself- what can help my arthritis, well try to clear up a few of the most popular misconceptions for you fact or fiction?
|Check out our entire line of Arthritis Splints and Braces|
How To Ease Weather
You donât have to pick up and move to a different climate. Thereâs plenty you can do at home to relieve joint pain.
- When temperatures drop, try to keep yourself warm. Take warm showers or baths, dress in layers during the day , use an electric blanket at night, or crank up the heat inside your home.
- Try a paraffin bath. Itâs a small machine that melts paraffin wax. You dip your hands and feet in, and then you let the wax harden on your skin. Your body absorbs the heat, which may soothe achy joints. You can also use a heating pad on sore spots.
- Ask your doctor about pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
- Keep a healthy weight and stay active. Try exercise thatâs gentle on the joints, like yoga or swimming. That will help you build up muscle and bone strength. If you go outside to exercise, limber up first with some gentle stretches.
- Donât strain your joints if you donât have to. Let someone else lift those heavy boxes.
- Make sure you take care of your health in general, like with good nutrition and getting enough sleep.
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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!
More About Living With Arthritis
Some of the worst states to live in for arthritis are those with poor access to healthcare, high humidity, and dramatic seasonal changes.
If your daily struggles with arthritis do find you moving to beautiful sunny Phoenix, get in touch with Arizona Pain. Our team is committed to helping people learn more about living with arthritis. Keep up with the latest tips for living with arthritis and other chronic pain conditions on our pain management blog.
The Grand Canyon state is one of the best places to live with arthritis, and wed love to help you manage your pain! Get in touch with our team to learn more about our approach.
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Cost Of Healthcare And Access
If you are moving to take better care of your health, it makes sense that you need to look for a state that has affordable, accessible healthcare. Talk to your current healthcare provider about what changes you can expect, and be ready to move to another plan if the cost increases.
Pro tip: One of the best places to live with arthritis, New Mexico, also has one of the most affordable healthcare systems in the country.
Break Out Your Yoga Mat
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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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.