Best cities for arthritis

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The Best Places To Live With Arthritis: 14 Great Options

For anyone living with osteoarthritis, there are many challenges they face daily. From tying their shoes to making trips to the store, every task can be made harder by the joint pain of this wear-and-tear condition. One potential solution? Finding one of the best places to live with arthritis in the United States, which can make your life easier and may just ease your pain. Here are the 14 best cities to live in with arthritis (and a few things to consider when making your move).

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 (and sometimes with) 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 (or those with pronounced seasons that feature a drop in barometric pressure) 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 other factors should I consider?

The barometer cannot be the only factor when you consider the best states to live with arthritis. It’s important to think about other factors, especially if you will be making a long-distance move.

Other than shifting towards a warmer climate, these are other elements to consider.

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.

Quality of healthcare

Evaluating the quality of healthcare in the state you’re moving to matters. Considering the number of available physicians, nursing home capacity, longevity, and health insurance coverage is important.

Pro-tip: The state with the highest cost of living – Hawaii – also has some of the best healthcare in the nation. But other arthritis-friendly states like Arizona and Colorado have robust healthcare systems at a more accessible price tag.

Number of rheumatologists

Rheumatologists specialize in disorders of the joints, and it’s critical that your new home has access to a doctor you need. Unfortunately, rheumatologists are in critically short supply in the U.S. There is good news, though: many states are adding a rheumatology component to their primary care physician education to help address the shortage.

Pro-tip: Only one state, Maryland, with its high humidity and sometimes-bitter cold winters, received an “A” grade in terms of the number of rheumatologists. Two others, Arizona and Alabama, received special recognition for their efforts to address the shortage of rheumatologists.

Opportunities for activity year-round

Bright, warm weather offers plenty of opportunity for year-round outdoor activity, a crucial part of managing osteoarthritis. While aches and pains can tempt a person to take it easy, over and again research shows that movement helps decrease pain, lubricate joints, and increase range of motion in painful joints.

Pro-tip: In colder but still arthritis-friendly cities like Denver, bundling up is key to staying active outside year round.

Cost of living overall

Cost of living is a consideration, especially if you are living on a fixed income. Some of the best places to live with arthritis in the United States also happen to be some of the most affordable.

Pro-tip: While some of the cheapest places to live may not be great for those with osteoarthritis, two of the best states – Arizona and New Mexico – are affordable options with other perks (see below).

Overall energy/fun of the city

Finally, why move to a place that you won’t enjoy? Look for a new home in a city or town that matches your energy level and interests.

Pro-tip: If you belong to clubs or organizations, check to see if they have a local chapter in your new city before you move.

Where are the best places to live with arthritis?

Keeping all of the above in mind, here are 14 of the best places to live with arthritis.

1. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, with its beautiful city parks, affordable cost of living, and access to great healthcare (e.g., our team at Arizona Pain!), is a top pick for many people who suffer from all kinds of chronic pain, including arthritis.

Low humidity, warm temperatures year-round, and a relatively stable barometer make it an ideal place to move – regardless of your health. Hiking options abound, in the city or a short drive outside of it.

2. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona has a climate tailor-made for osteoarthritis sufferers. With low humidity and two seasons (summer and winter), this desert city is easy to adapt to.

In terms of healthcare, it’s also ideal, as the University of Arizona Medical Center (UAMC), home of the Arizona Arthritis Center, is located here.

3. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque sits in a rain shadow that keeps humidity low and rain scarce.

The culture of this city is also a big draw for visitors and new residents alike. The mountains that surround the city offer ample opportunity for year-round outdoor recreation, and the heat of the summer is lower than some other southwestern cities.

4. Taos, New Mexico

Taos offers a unique cultural vibe with dry weather and low humidity.

It is close to other major metropolitan areas and features Native American arts in its bustling downtown square. Hiking and other low-impact recreation is available all year long.

5. Las Vegas, Nevada

Sure, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – and so can you.

With a bustling regional airport that connects you to everyone you love and hot, dry weather for most of the year, you may get lucky managing your arthritis here. Beyond the Las Vegas Strip, there are many opportunities for hiking and exploring southern Nevada.

6. Denver, Colorado

Cold and snowy Denver, Colorado may seem like an anomaly on this list of hot, dry cities, but even with the cold weather the humidity remains low, making it a good place to consider. And when the weather does shift, the change is gradual, allowing time to adjust.

Additionally, the culture of Colorado skews towards outdoor activity, with many clubs and organizations to keep you moving year-round.

7. Grand Junction, Colorado

Similar to Denver, Grand Junction, Colorado features low humidity and a commitment to year-round outdoor activity.

Grand Junction features slightly higher summer temperature averages, less rainfall, and less snow than Denver. If you like to experience the seasons without experiencing a lingering May snowfall or two, Grand Junction may be for you.

8. Salt Lake City, Utah

Voted one of the most relaxing places to live, with the lowest rate of smoking in the U.S. (smoking can aggravate many health conditions, including osteoarthritis), Salt Lake City is one of the best cities to live with arthritis. The winter can be cold, but the humidity is low all year, and recreational activities abound.

Salt Lake City also has low crime rates and a more affordable cost of living, plus access to healthcare and the doctors you need.

9. El Paso, Texas

El Paso in west Texas has low humidity, hot summers, and mild winters, making it one of the best places to live with arthritis.

With affordable healthcare and a low cost of living, your dollar goes farther here. Looking for outdoor recreation? The Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the U.S. (over 24,000 acres) and it’s right in El Paso.

10. San Diego, California

San Diego is famous for its mild climate, with days that hover around 74 degrees with low humidity. This city also has many different medical facilities that specialize in rheumatic conditions. Recreational opportunities are available, including miles of level bike trails.

The main drawback to this lovely city is its cost of living, of course. The average home price here is $664,000. Adjacent cities that are further inland may provide more affordable options.

11. Palm Springs, California

Enjoy the dry desert air in this quirky and cute town nestled underneath the San Jacinto mountains. There are over 350 days of sunshine per year, and rain is rare. Summer highs are also lower than some of the other desert cities featured here.

Explore the area with the many hiking and bike trails. Palm Springs is also a vibrant cultural city, with Coachella nearby and many art galleries in its downtown. It’s also more affordable than San Diego, for those who want to live in California.

12. Destin, Florida

Located in the Florida panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a laid-back beach community that features plenty of year-round recreation and access to rheumatologists.

The humidity may be challenging for some, but the warm weather and ample walking and biking trails can help counteract daily aches and pains.

13. Baltimore, Maryland

Although the climate of Baltimore is not the best for those living with arthritis, their healthcare access just might be.

Baltimore is home to Johns Hopkins Hospital, ranked number one in rheumatology. This extensive hospital network is located in a city with an affordable cost of living and access to a variety of recreational opportunities that including hiking and biking paths, gyms, and yoga studios all over the city. Bonus: Maryland was the only state in the U.S. to get an “A” on the rheumatic disease report card.

14. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Even if the weather in Minneapolis is not the most osteoarthritis-friendly, the healthcare sure is. The Mayo Clinic is located here, with doctors who also specialize in rheumatology. Even with the annual snowfall, the humidity overall is relatively low, as is the cost of living.

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 we’d love to help you manage your pain! Get in touch with our team to learn more about our approach.

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The Best Places to Retire With Arthritis

San Diego is considered the best place in California for those with arthritis to live.

Those who suffer from arthritis know all too well the pain and discomfort that it can bring on a daily basis. As for those with osteoarthritis, the stiffness and inflammation only get worse with age. There are things arthritis sufferers can do to limit the condition, including anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers, healthy eating, and even acupuncture. One potential remedy that might not spring to mind but can make a world of difference? The climate you live in.

Climates with low humidity and warm weather have been known to be beneficial to those suffering from arthritis. While studies and theories differ on the specifics, changes in temperature and barometric pressure tend to have adverse effects on joint pain, so spending more time in climates that are dry and don’t get too chilly tend to be more effective at minimizing arthritis symptoms.

While arthritic conditions will persist regardless of temperature and climate, here are a few places you should consider if you want to minimize their impact. Coincidentally, they’re all already active adult community hot spots so you’ll be able to find places to live that also offer low maintenance lifestyles, low-impact aerobics, pools, and other amenities that can help ease the symptoms.

San Diego, CA

The San Diego area is considered the best place in California for arthritis sufferers thanks to a year-round mild climate and low humidity. It’s also the kind of place where it’s easy to find places for low-impact exercises, be they at the beach, poolside, or in the city. It’s also home to various medical clinics and hospitals that focus on arthritis and joint pain.

Denver, CO

It might sound counterintuitive given how snowy and cold the Denver area can get in the winter, but this Colorado metro area never sees temperatures get too crazy. Located on a semi-arid plain where humidity regularly remains low and summer temperatures rise gradually, Denver offers a unique change of pace where you can escape the extreme snowfall of the Northeast and Midwest but find seasonal balance.

Phoenix, AZ

Some might think twice about the Phoenix area given the heavy rain season that takes place in the summer but the climate is warm and dry with low humidity for the most part. The air is clean and barometric pressure has a tendency to remain steady, which is certainly a plus for those with arthritis. It might get well past 100 degrees often but the dry heat makes it manageable for locals, and that includes those with joint pain. It’s no wonder that Arizona is usually considered the top state for arthritis sufferers.

Tucson, AZ

The Tucson area works for arthritis sufferers on two levels. First, Tucson has a desert climate that basically has only two seasons: summer and winter. Summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees and feature low humidity and clear skies, though humidity does rise in the late summer. Second, the University of Arizona Medical Center (UAMC) is located here. This nationally ranked hospital is also the home of the Arizona Arthritis Center, amongst many other notable services.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Like Arizona, New Mexico’s hot and dry climate can help arthritis sufferers in their daily ordeals. In Albuquerque, the summer heat is tolerable because of the low humidity and although it cools down a bit in the fall it doesn’t rain too often. In fact, the surrounding mountains and highlands create a rain shadow effect around the city, which results in very little rain or snow year-round. Be warned that once you travel west, north, or east of Albuquerque, that effect goes away and you’ll notice that things cool down and get wetter.

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10 worst states for arthritis

Arthritis can be a relentless enemy.

Some conditions that cause joint inflammation, such as lupus, may kill people quickly. In many other cases, a condition that starts out as a nuisance gradually takes over people’s lives, limiting their ability to handle the activities of daily living.

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Unum Group has estimated that joint disorders cause 7.2 percent of its short-term disability insurance claims and 9.2 percent of its long-term disability insurance claims.

The Westlake Village, California-based American Association for Long Term Care Association says arthritis is the main cause of about 9 percent of long-term care insurance claims.

For insurance professionals, arthritis has two faces: in some cases, it can make getting clients the most helpful health-related insurance products difficult or impossible. In other cases, it can make clients keenly aware of health and disability risk without doing much to hurt their insurability. Closing a sale might be as simple as telling the client, “The underwriters approved your application.”

Related: Disability insurance: Addressing the facts with clients

The effects of arthritis on underwriting and sales vary dramatically from condition to condition and from client to client.

Gout, for example, is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in the blood. It may have no effect on some people’s lifespan, but researchers in Japan reported in 2000 that it seemed to correlate with a 60 percent increase in the risk of dying in any given year.

Complications of rheumatoid arthritis, or joint inflammation caused by a wide variety of conditions, might cut some people’s lifespans by about 10 to 15 years, but it has no effects on others’ lifespans. Many people with the condition live into their 80s and 90s, according to the Atlanta-based Arthritis Foundation.

Osteoarthritis, or joint inflammation caused by some combination of cartilage problems, over-use of a joint, and ordinary wear and tear, may have no effect on life expectancy at all.

One New York-based insurer says in a Web-based field underwriting manual that otherwise healthy people with mild osteoarthritis may be able to qualify for individual disability insurance at standard rates and typically can qualify for life insurance at preferred rates. People with mild rheumatoid arthritis may be able to qualify for life insurance at standard rates and individual disability insurance at substandard rates.

When insurers write about how they think about the boundary between mild arthritis and moderate or severe arthritis, they typically mention warning signs such as use of narcotic drugs to control pain or recent joint surgery. They also talk about whether arthritic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis have caused many of a client’s joints to fuse together.

This is a good month for insurance professionals who are interested in learning more about people with arthritis and arthritis risk, because many local Arthritis Foundation chapters host Bone Bash Halloween fundraisers this month. Getting to know people with arthritis may be as easy as attending a masquerade ball.

For insurance professionals, one twist is that the prevalence of arthritis seems to vary widely from market to market.

In 2014, for example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 27 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 and older had arthritis, according to a CDC survey database.

At the state level, however, prevalence ranged from less than 20 percent in Minnesota to more than 35 percent in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

To try to filter out some local variation that may be based on diagnostic practices or historic demographic factors, we looked at how the reported arthritis prevalence rate changes between 2009 and 2014.

The rate fell in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The median change was a decrease of about 1.6 percentage points

But the rate increased a bit in Idaho and Virginia, and more in 10 other states. For a look at the 10 states with the biggest increases, read on:

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the whole body. (Photo: iStock)

5 bad states for arthritis

In most states, the prevalence of arthritis among adults ages 45 to 54 — the adults who may be the most likely to have the cash and life experience to understand the importance of long-term disability insurance, long-term care insurance and other disability-related products and services — declined between 2009 and 2014.

In these states, which rank fifth through 10th in terms of arthritis prevalence in the 45-54 age group, the percentage of people touched by arthritis actually increased.

10. Mississippi

2009 prevalence: 33 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 33.9 percent.

Prevalence change: 0.9 percentage points.

9. Arkansas

2009 prevalence: 35.8 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 36.8 percent.

Prevalence change: 1 percentage point.

8. Maine

2009 prevalence: 32.3 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 33.3 percent.

Prevalence change: 1 percentage point

7. Kansas

2009 prevalence: 26.4 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 27.5 percent.

Prevalence change: 1.1 percentage points.

6. Alabama

2009 prevalence: 38.1 percent

2014 Prevalence: 39.7 percent.

Prevalence change: 01.6 percentage points.

Related: Specialty drugs: A primer

Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when people’s joints wear out. (Photo: iStock)

5 terrible states for arthritis

In the states that rank fifth through 10th in terms of arthritis prevalence, the percentage of people in the 45-54 age group touched by arthritis increased by 0.9 percentage points to 1.6 percentage points between 2009 and 2014.

In the states in first to fifth place, the percentage touched by arthritis went up much faster.

The increase in some states might be partly because of the introduction of lucrative new arthritis drugs.

Fighting arthritis can be a good moneymaker for pharmaceutical companies. The London-based International Federation of Health Plans says the full cost of one popular brand-name drug for fighting rheumatoid arthritis, Humira, cost about $30,000 to $36,000 per year in the United States in 2015. Zipsor, a drug for osteoarthritis, can cost about $12,000 per year.

That kind of money could encourage drug companies to push physicians to look harder for people with arthritis. Promotional campaigns might work better in some markets than others.

But factors such as nutrition, exercise habits or other factors could also increase the odds that people in some areas will develop arthritis.

Either way: The states on this page seem to have experienced a dramatic increase in arthritis prevalence.

5. Delaware

2009 prevalence: 26.8 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 28.8 percent.

Prevalence change: 2 percentage points.

4. Massachusetts

2009 prevalence: 25.5 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 29.1 percent.

Prevalence change: 3.6 percentage points

3. Georgia

2009 prevalence: 25.5 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 29.9 percent.

Prevalence change: 4.4 percentage points.

2. West Virginia

2009 prevalence: 38 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 42.5 percent.

Prevalence change: 4.5 percentage points

1. Tennessee

2009 prevalence: 29.7 percent.

2014 Prevalence: 36.6 percent.

Prevalence change: 6.9 percentage points.

Related: J&J raises 2016 profit forecast after drug sales increase

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that can cause vertebrae and other joints to fuse together. (Image: iStock)

50 states of data: Arthritis

This chart shows how the prevalence of arthritis among adults ages 45 to 54 changed in each state, and the District of Columbia, between 2009 and 2014. One good place to go to create health indicator tables of your own is the CDC’s Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Data & Indicators .

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By: Scott Burg, DO

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People often have misconceptions about how and why arthritis develops. Here are some surprising facts I like to share with my patients.

1. Arthritis typically won’t get better in a warm climate.

Arthritis patients often say something like, “Doc, I felt great on vacation in Phoenix because it was so warm and dry. I’ve decided to move there.”

To which I respond, “Would you like the name of a rheumatologist in Phoenix?”

They’ll tell me no. But after about two months they’ll call me, asking, “Do you still have that rheumatologist’s name? My arthritis is killing me.”

It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to understand why the Phoenix phonebook is packed with rheumatologists. Weather has some impact on arthritis, but it’s not the be-all, end-all.

Getting relief from arthritis is more about breaking your routine and getting away from it all. Can you feel better on a cruise somewhere cold, like Alaska, with arthritis? Absolutely. In fact, some patients tell me, “Doc, I feel worse in the summer than I do in the winter.”

2. Arthritis doesn’t always come on gradually.

Everyone thinks arthritis is a gradual process. But that’s true only 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent of the time, it’s sudden. You can wake up one morning and feel like a truck hit you.

We commonly see gradual and sudden episodes of arthritis in both major types of arthritis: mechanical (like osteoarthritis) and inflammatory (like rheumatoid arthritis, or RA).

3. Arthritis can go away, but it’s rare.

With inflammatory arthritis like RA or lupus, a small percentage of patients improve spontaneously for periods of time. And some patients may have one episode that never recurs.

Inflammatory arthritis can also be related to a viral syndrome, and viral conditions resolve over time. For example, parvovirus (“slap face disease” or “fifth disease” in kids) can be very painful for adults’ joints. Also, people with certain types of hepatitis can develop joint pain that usually improves after a while.

However, osteoarthritis is never going to go away. Your joint won’t go from being arthritic to being normal. However, the symptoms may wax and wane.

4. Arthritis is not a disease for old people.

People often believe they’re too young to have arthritis when in fact they’re not. For most types of inflammatory arthritis, we see patients of all ages, across the board.

Osteoarthritis may develop in young athletes because of the constant loading and impact on their joints. And it can develop in older adults as well.

Will having a parent or relative with arthritis increase your risk of getting arthritis? Only rarely.

5. Your quality of life can be good even if your arthritis is severe.

Back in the 1980s, we didn’t have many treatment options to offer arthritis patients. But we could admit them to the hospital, and give them three square meals a day and physical therapy. Taking them out of their environment and away from daily demands like fixing dinner would make them feel better.

But over the last 25 years, we’ve gone from basic hand-holding to making significant strides in medical and surgical care for all types of arthritis. We have many weapons in our arsenal that significantly improve patients’ quality of life.

Our goal — and the reality — is that we can now put most patients into some kind of remission. This is true even for RA, the worst form of inflammatory arthritis, which had been one of the toughest to treat.

In mechanical arthritis like osteoarthritis, patients enjoy a significantly improved quality of life as well. We have a variety of medications, along with physical therapy, low- to no-impact aerobic exercise (which boosts endorphins to relieve pain), joint injections, and sometimes surgery.

If you think you have arthritis, don’t be afraid to learn more about the condition. Talk to your primary care physician. Find out what is — and is not — likely to help you.

Like moving to Phoenix.

7 ways to live better with arthritis

Living with arthritis can be disruptive and disconcerting. The pain and stiffness can make it difficult to perform the daily tasks most people take for granted. Even things like putting on socks or cooking dinner can be exhausting. Therefore, if you have arthritis, it is important to take especially good care of yourself — to relieve pain, improve function, and cope with difficult emotions. In fact, the American College of Rheumatology recommends not only medication but also nondrug treatments for people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. These methods include weight loss, physical therapy, and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.

It makes sense that eating healthful foods, shedding pounds if you are overweight, strengthening your muscles, and learning to move your joints safely are helpful regardless of which form of arthritis you have and which joints are affected. Further, paying attention to diet, weight, and exercise is important for preventing heart disease, which has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Following are some do-it-yourself strategies and therapies that can help you conserve energy, protect your joints, accomplish daily tasks more easily, and adapt to lifestyle disruptions.

  1. Keep moving. Avoid holding one position for too long. When working at a desk, for example, get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Do the same while sitting at home reading or watching television.
  2. Avoid stress. Avoid positions or movements that put extra stress on joints. For example, opening a tight lid can be difficult if you have hand arthritis. One solution is to set the jar on a cloth, lean on the jar with your palm, and turn the lid using a shoulder motion. Better yet, purchase a wall-mounted jar opener that grips the lid, leaving both hands free to turn the jar.
  3. Discover your strength. Use your strongest joints and muscles. To protect finger and wrist joints, push open heavy doors with the side of the arm or shoulder. To reduce hip or knee stress on stairs, lead with the stronger leg going up and the weaker leg going down.
  4. Plan ahead. Simplify life as much as possible. Eliminate unnecessary activities (for example, buy clothing that doesn’t need ironing). Organize work and storage areas; store frequently used items within easy reach. Keep duplicate household items in several places; for example, stock the kitchen and all bathrooms with cleaning supplies.
  5. Use labor-saving items and adaptive aids. In the kitchen, use electric can openers and mixers. In the bathroom, cut down on scrubbing by using automatic toilet bowl cleaners and, in showers or tubs, spray-on mildew remover. Other devices on the market can help you avoid unnecessary bending, stooping, or reaching.
  6. Make home modifications. Using casters on furniture can make housecleaning easier. A grab bar mounted over the tub is a necessity for many people, as is a suction mat in the tub to prevent falls. Putting a bathing stool in the tub or shower is a good idea for people who have arthritis in the legs.
  7. Ask for help. Maintaining independence is essential to self-esteem, but independence at all costs is a recipe for disaster. Achieve a balance by educating family members and friends about the disease and the limitations it imposes and enlisting their support. Ask for help with specific tasks.

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

5 Best Places to Live with Arthritis: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking for an arthritis-friendly city that offers entertainment, Tucson ticks that box. Hosting the annual Tucson Festival of Books every March, this fun event is the fourth largest book festival in the U.S. and features over 450 authors offering reading and lectures, and food and entertainment.

With a median home value of $187,600, and a predicted 1.9% increase over the coming year, Tucson’s real estate market is ripe for buyers.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City might not seem like a typical arthritis-friendly location because of it’s colder winters, but it makes up for this in several ways. For instance, Salt Lake City has the lowest smoking rate in the entire U.S., and as cigarette smoke can exacerbate arthritis, it’s nice to know passive smoke won’t be an issue.

Another great thing about Salt Lake City is that it’s been ranked one of the U.S.’s most relaxing places to live due to its affordable living standards, low crime rates, and quality of life. With a median home value of $266,800, according to Niche.com, you should consider the capital of Utah if you’re living with arthritis and looking to reduce your stress levels.

El Paso, TX

El Paso is located in the far west of Texas and has a desert climate, with hot summers and little humidity, and mild dry winters. Known for its significant military presence, El Paso was awarded the title of the safest city in the U.S. for three years in a row in 2014.

El Paso is located in the fourth most affordable state for health insurance, making it an excellent choice for people who need ongoing care for their arthritis. It is also home to The Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in the U.S., with more than 24,248 acres to enjoy — the perfect environment to take advantage of the outdoors and increase your mobility.

If you’re looking to buy a home in El Paso, you’ll be happy to know that the median home value is an affordable $128,800, having risen by 5.5% in the past year alone.

When managing a health condition such as arthritis, it’s crucial you consider all the variables that can affect your quality of life. Whether you struggle with mobility and require an easily accessible public transport network, or you want to adopt a more relaxed pace of life, there is an ideal location for you.

Our Clever Partner Agents are seasoned professionals and top-performers in their market, possessing the local knowledge to help you find a home that meets your needs — while ensuring you get the best price on your new home.

Best Climates for Arthritis: Time to Start Packing?

You may not realize it, but the climate you’re currently living in could be seriously affecting, or even increasing, your painful arthritis symptoms. Moving to a milder climate could actually help ease your arthritis symptoms, along with medical treatment, of course.

There are many benefits to consider for seniors moving to milder climates, like easier lawn and house care, elevated mood, and generally more recreational activities. But many people overlook the fact that it can actually improve your health, and especially your arthritis, as well.

It’s important to note that changing climates will, in no way, reverse your arthritis or cure it, but it can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Table of Contents

How Does Climate Affect Arthritis Symptoms?

High Humidity

High humidity climates create a lot of fatigue in arthritis sufferers. With the thick, heavy, wet air, it can be difficult to move around. Some studies have shown that those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are especially affected by high humidity, reporting more pain and flare ups in this environment than any other.

Low Barometric Pressure

The barometric pressure of any given climate can affect our bodies in all kinds of ways, and can accentuate arthritis symptoms like pain and fatigue. When the barometric pressure of our climate drops, it creates all sorts of tension between the pressure of the air and the pressures that move air and blood through our bodies.

Low barometric pressure conflicts with our blood pressure, creating fatigue and drowsiness. It can also create headaches for many people, and accentuate joint pain. The connection between barometric pressure and joint pain is not entirely clear, but it’s a phenomenon that happens all over the world. It could have to do with the barometric pressure affecting the viscosity of the joint fluid.

Cold Conditions

Places with cold climates can make your muscles and joints feel stiff, even if you don’t have arthritis. For arthritis sufferers, cold weather can be entirely unbearable. It can confuse them into thinking their symptoms are getting worse, when it’s actually just the weather conditions affecting the stiffness of their joints. Our muscles and joints tend to stiffen when exposed to the cold in order to retain as much body heat as possible.

The Ideal – Warm, Dry Climates

Considering all of that information, it’s obvious that warm, dry climates are the best for people with arthritis. People in these climates report fewer flare-ups and reduced pain, although it doesn’t cure or reverse the disease altogether. This could be because warm, dry climates don’t have the humidity, barometric pressure, or cold conditions you need to look out for, and also because it’s much easier to stay active and maintain proper health in these better-suited climates. It could also be the extra vitamin D you get in sunny climates, which helps improve bone health and longevity.

What Are the Best Climates for Arthritis?

So, where in the world should you go? Usually, places closer to the equator will be warmer, but not necessarily dryer. Look through the list below to see what would be beneficial to your unique lifestyle, and read on for some considerations to make before making that big move.

US Cities

Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona is a perfect place for seniors, especially those with arthritis. There are plenty of senior communities with ample activities, groups, and fun things to do. But even better, Arizona has a warm climate all year round and humidity is generally low. There’s also very little barometric pressure fluctuation, although there is a short rain season in July where this may change a bit. Still – it’s a huge step up from a cold, rainy, snowy climate.

San Diego, California

California is also a great location because you get to live near the beach and ocean, if that’s something important to you. Other than that, it’s also a location that’s generally warm all year round with steady barometric pressure and little to no humidity, despite its proximity to the ocean. Enjoy the seas and sand, and de-stress in San Diego.

International

Sydney, Australia

Another nice and warm location, a little farther from home, is Sydney, Australia. It’s warm and dry on the whole continent most of the year, but Sydney, in particular, is great for people with arthritis because it’s a big walking city. Everything you could need is within walking distance, so you’ll get a healthy amount of exercise each day, which can help alleviate your symptoms and keep your joints strong. There are also plenty of entertainment options there (Sydney Opera House, anyone?).

Paris, France

Paris is another perfect city for arthritis sufferers. Although it’s a bit colder than our other choices, it doesn’t get nearly as cold as other parts of the world and the temperature fluctuation shouldn’t be enough to affect your joints. They also have food there that are rich in vitamin K, which helps alleviate inflammation in the body and strengthen your bones at the same time, so it’ll be easy to maintain a diet here that will help with your arthritis symptoms.

Athens, Greece

A Mediterranean diet is also very anti-inflammatory, and great for alleviating arthritis pain. Greek diets consist of a lot of whole grains, fish, olive oil, and fresh fruit and vegetables, giving you the maximum amount of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins you’ll naturally need if you suffer from arthritis. Athens is also a beautiful spot rich in history with plenty to explore, and just a short ride to the beaches of the mediterranean sea, for the most relaxation and luxury you could want.

Some More Considerations…

While all of these climates sound wonderful on their face, some may not be for you. Maybe you don’t want to be part of a 55+ community, or maybe just the opposite. Wherever you’re thinking of going, take a long, but temporary, vacation there first to make sure you can really see yourself living, fitting in, and thriving there.

Also, maybe you want to be closer to loved ones. This is one of the most important considerations, because even the Arthritis Foundation states that moving away from loved ones at an elderly age may cause enough stress to offset the benefits of the warmer climate for arthritis sufferers.

Summary and Resources

There are many treatments out there for arthritis pain and discomfort, but changing your environment can be one of the most beneficial shifts you can make as someone who suffers from arthritis.

What else do you do to alleviate your symptoms? Have you moved and found somewhere great that’s not listed above? Share below!

Sources:

Yes, the cold and humidity can make your joints ache.

Can you feel a storm coming in your knees? So can lots of people with arthritis. Some doctors think that these stories of weather causing joint pain are old wives’ tales, but science is backing up the phenomenon.

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 doesn’t either of you is wrong, it just means that we don’t perceive things the same.

A 2014 study of people with osteoarthritis (OA) published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders asked participants if and how weather influenced their pain. Of the 712 people who answered the survey, 469 (67%) 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 (RA). 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.”

Which Weather Conditions Are Worst?

If you combine results of the various studies, the general consensus is that cold, wet weather is the worst for inciting arthritis pain. Terence Starz, MD, rheumatologist at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, may have summed it up best with this quip he shared from one of his patients, “The frost is on the pumpkin and the pain is back in my joints.”

Changes in barometric pressure – a measure that refers to the weight of the air – seem to be more important for pain levels than the actual barometric pressure. Meaning that either a cold front or warm front coming in can ramp up the ache in your fingers. But once the weather has settled in, your pain will even out.

A 2015 study of 810 people with OA published in Journal of Rheumatology found significant links between humidity, temperature and joint pain. The effect of humidity on pain was stronger when the weather was colder. In essence, they found that wet, winter days are no fun.

A 2015 study of 133 RA patients published in Rheumatology International found that their disease activity (swollen joints, pain) was lower when their days were sunny and dry.

Why Does Cold Rain Make You Hurt?

Scientists don’t 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, you’ll probably feel better physically as well.”

Related Resources:

  • Arthritis Weather Index Tool
  • Factors that Affect Arthritis Pain
  • Breaking the Arthritis Pain Chain Toolkit

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Prognosis

Share on PinterestA person with rheumatoid arthritis may find that joint pain and mobility worsen over time.

RA is a chronic condition for which there is currently no cure.

However, treatment can slow down the progression of the disease. It can also help reduce pain, make symptoms manageable, and prevent joint damage.

Continuing advances in RA treatment mean that the outlook for people with RA is better than ever before. Many people can live a healthy, active life with RA.

It is difficult to predict the exact impact that RA will have on a person’s life expectancy because the course of the disease differs significantly between people.

In general, it is possible for RA to reduce life expectancy by around 10 to 15 years. However, many people continue to live with their symptoms past the age of 80 or even 90 years.

With appropriate treatment, many people with RA experience only relatively mild symptoms for many years, and it places few limitations on their everyday life.

For example, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have become an effective and widely available medication for people with RA. These drugs work by suppressing the immune system and minimizing the damage that it does to joint tissue.

Over time, people with RA often experience some of the following issues:

  • worsening joint pain and swelling
  • more persistent symptoms during flare-ups
  • permanent joint damage
  • inflammation spreading to new joints
  • an increasingly restricted range of motion in affected joints
  • decreased mobility
  • treatment having less effect than it did initially

In comparison with other forms of arthritis, RA is particularly challenging to treat because it involves the immune system. As a result, it can cause widespread complications throughout the body, not just in the joints. These complications can contribute significantly to people’s outlook. Some people may also have systemic symptoms.

The systemic symptoms of RA include:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • rheumatoid nodules

It is also possible for people with RA to experience complications, including:

  • inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the eyes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • osteoporosis
  • anemia
  • high blood pressure
  • skin conditions
  • respiratory conditions
  • infections
  • cancer

These complications are relatively uncommon, but they occur more often in advanced forms of RA. For this reason, people with advanced RA have a significantly lower life expectancy than those whose RA is less active.

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