Humidity and arthritis pain

Myths and Facts About Joint Pain

Joint Pain Myth: All joint pain is arthritis. There are more than 50 types of arthritis, but having a swollen, achy joint does not mean you have one of them. “You need to be properly diagnosed and treated,” says Elaine Husni, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center Orthopedic and Rheumatologic Institute, at the Cleveland Clinic, “You may not even have arthritis, but rather a soft tissue injury or bursitis.” Only a visit to a doctor will tell you for sure.

Joint Pain Myth: Popping knuckles causes arthritis. Sure, we’ve all heard this one before. Mom always said, Stop cracking those knuckles or you’ll end up giving yourself arthritis. But according to Mark A. McQuillan, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Divisions of General Medicine and Rheumatology, at the University of Michigan, popping of the knuckles is just a vacuum phenomenon. When you pull on your knuckles, a bit of excess nitrogen gas that was dissolved in your blood literally makes a popping noise. So no, you won’t get arthritis from knuckle popping, though you may annoy those around you.

Joint Pain Fact: Dry, warm weather helps relieve joint pain. According to Dr. McQuillan, arthritis patients feel an uncomfortable pressure in their joints on days of high humidity and low barometric pressure, especially just before a storm. A drier climate means a minimum of pressure. “Before you plan a major move, however, it’s good to test out drier weather for a few weeks, to see if it works for you,” says Dr. McQuillan.

Joint Pain Myth: Exercise can aggravate joint pain. Exercise is beneficial for everyone, with or without arthritis, says Dr. McQuillan. Yet only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women with knee osteoarthritis get the minimum recommended amount of weekly movement. If you are in pain, forgo intense exercise and try some light stretching, or switch to workouts that are less taxing on the joints, such as the stationary bike or swimming. “The most important thing is just to get more movement in your life. Remember: Use it or lose it,” says Dr. Husni. “The more exercise you do, the better your range of motion.”

Joint Pain Fact: Diet can be a factor in preventing arthritis. Yes — and no. Maintaining a healthy weight can help ward off certain types of arthritis. “Keeping close to your ideal weight will be protective against osteoarthritis,” says Dr. McQuillan, because obesity has been linked to osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. However, diet has not been proven to have a direct link to the cause or prevention of other forms of arthritis.

Joint Pain Myth: There’s no way to prevent arthritis-caused joint damage. Arthritis medications — including COX-2 inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-TNF compounds, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) — can help reduce inflammation, relieve painful symptoms, and prevent joint damage. In patients who delay treatment, “we can see drastic erosions in joints in as little as three to six months, which don’t grow back,” says Dr. Husni. It’s best to see your doctor to determine a treatment plan that can help you maintain your quality of life and better manage your condition.

If you suffer from arthritis, you’re more likely to feel pain when it’s humid outside.

Researches at the University of Manchester recently conducted a study, funded by Versus Arthritis, where they analyzed the experiences of people with conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.

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The scientists observed data from nearly 3,000 people using a smartphone app. Participants were asked to record their daily symptoms using the app, while their phone’s GPS allowed researches to collect data about the weather in their location. While participants suffered from a range of health issues, the majority had arthritis. Arthritis affects 24 million adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study revealed that people with long-term health conditions are 20% more likely to suffer from pain on days that are humid and windy, according to the University of Manchester.

” RELATED: These two common foods may trigger rheumatoid arthritis, study says

“Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates,” said Will Dixon , a professor at the Center for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis at the University of Manchester, who led the study. Around three quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather. Yet despite much research examining the existence and nature of this relationship, there remains no scientific consensus.”

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Researchers didn’t discover any correlation to pain and temperature, but humid days were the most likely to be painful while dry days were the least.

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People ‘more likely to feel pain on humid days’

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People with long-term health problems such as arthritis are more likely to feel pain on humid days, a study has suggested.

Folklore suggests the cold makes pain worse – but there is actually little research into the weather’s effects.

And this University of Manchester study of 2,500 people, which collected data via smartphones, found symptoms were actually worse on warmer, damper days.

Researchers hope the findings will steer future research into why that is.

Hearing someone say their knee is playing up because of the weather is pretty common – usually because of the cold, Some say they can even predict the weather based on how their joints feel.

But carrying out scientific research into how different types of weather affect pain has been difficult. Previous studies have been small, or short-term.

In this research, called Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, scientists recruited 2,500 people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine and neuropathic pain from across the UK.

They recorded pain symptoms each day, for between one and 15 months, while their phones recorded the weather where they were.

Damp and windy days with low pressure increased the chances of experiencing more pain than normal by about 20%.

So if someone’s chances of a painful day with average weather were five in 100, they would increase to six in 100 on a damp and windy day.

Cold, damp days also made pain worse.

But there was no association with temperature alone, or rainfall.

‘Pain forecast’

Prof Will Dixon, of the Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, at the University of Manchester, who led the study said: “Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates.

Image copyright Getty Images

“Around three-quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather.”

Prof Dixon said if other researchers could now “look at why humidity is related to pain, that opens the door to new treatments”.

And it might be possible to develop a “pain forecast” that could allow people with chronic pain to plan activities.

About 10 million people in the UK have arthritis – and most of them are thought to experience life-altering pain every day.

Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research at Versus Arthritis, which funded the study, said: “It’s been almost folklore that weather has an effect on arthritis – but that’s all been people’s ‘lived experiences’ rather than studies.

“This was an innovative way to do research and it’s very important that we have been able to draw some conclusions.”

Does weather really affect our experience of pain?

A new study finds that, for people living with arthritis and other conditions that cause chronic pain, a certain kind of weather increases pain.

Share on PinterestNew research confirms that damp, windy weather may worsen pain for some.

When someone tells you that they can feel bad weather in their bones, they may well be right.

Scientists, many at the University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom, have released the findings of a new study that exposes a link between chronic pain and humid, windy days with low atmospheric pressure.

The study is whimsically titled “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain.” It also appears in the journal npj Digital Medicine.

A folk belief supported by science

“Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates,” says lead study author Prof. Will Dixon, director of the Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis, at the University of Manchester. “Around three-quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather.”

The study included more than 13,000 people from all 124 of the U.K.’s postcode areas, though the researchers sourced the final dataset from 2,658 people who participated daily for about 6 months.

The participants were predominantly people with arthritis, though some had other chronic pain-related conditions, such as fibromyalgia, migraine, or neuropathy.

The researchers collected the data with a smartphone app that they had developed specifically for the study. Each participant used the app to report their pain levels daily, while the app recorded the weather in their area using the phone’s GPS.

Weathering pain

“The analysis showed,” says Dixon, “that on damp and windy days with low pressure, the chances of experiencing more pain, compared to an average day, was around 20%.”

“This would mean that, if your chances of a painful day on an average weather day were 5 in 100, they would increase to 6 in 100 on a damp and windy day.”

The data suggested no connection between actual rainfall and pain. Likewise, the researchers found no relationship between pain and temperature alone.

However, it does appear that temperature can make pain caused by muggy, turbulent weather worse: The most painful days for participants proved to be humid, windy days that were also cold.

The value of the study

Dixon suggests that the study’s findings could lead to meteorologists giving pain forecasts alongside air quality projections, which could help people with chronic pain “plan their activities, completing harder tasks on days predicted to have lower levels of pain.”

This would be no small thing. Says Stephen Simpson, Ph.D., of the advocacy organization Versus Arthritis: “We know that, of the 10 million people in the U.K. with arthritis, over half experience life-altering pain every day. But our healthcare system is simply not geared up to effectively help people with arthritis with their number-one concern.”

This leaves self-management as the only practical method for “helping them to get and stay in work, to be full members of the community, and simply to belong.”

Carolyn Gamble, one of the study’s participants, is living with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, and she expressed happiness about the new insights.

“So many people live with chronic pain,” she says, “affecting their work, family life, and their mental health. Even when we’ve followed the best pain management advice, we often still experience daily pain.”

This is made even worse, Gamble says, by a tendency to blame oneself for flare-ups. She finds comfort in the study’s conclusions.

“Knowing how the weather impacts on our pain can enable us to accept that the pain is out of our control, it is not something we have done, or could have done differently in our own self-management.”

Carolyn Gamble

Dixon also hopes that pain researchers find this new information useful as they pursue a deeper understanding of its causes and mechanisms.

Can Weather Affect My Joint Pain?

By: Debbie Rockett, PT, OCS

Although scientists may not all be in agreement about weather causing pain, it is extremely common for people to blame the weather for their increased chronic pain or even predict when bad weather is approaching. The most compelling evidence that attempts to link weather and joint pain are found in patient’s with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Numerous theories have been created to attempt to explain this connection between increased joint pain and changes in weather.

Image of Woman with Knee Discomfort

Can a Change In Air Pressure or Weather Affect My Pain Levels?

One theory claims that changes in air pressure cause individuals to feel more joint pain. This phenomenon tends to display itself before damp, rainy, and cold weather due to the change in barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure is another term for atmospheric pressure. Typical atmospheric pressure pushes against the body’s tissues, preventing them from expanding. However before bad weather, barometric pressure tends to drop, putting less pressure against the body and allowing tissues to expand. Certainly, these changes in weather can affect your pain levels.

What Can You Do?

Many individuals try to escape the pain of arthritis and other joint pains by moving to another part of the country with different atmospheric pressure and temperature. Unfortunately, as long as an individual is participating in daily activities, a new location will most likely not drastically reduce joint pain. Instead of simply increasing pain medications, individuals can attempt to find relief by:

  1. Stay active: lack of activity can increase some types of pain
  2. Keep warm: use warm blankets, hot packs, heating pads or heat wraps to keep your joints warm and decrease stiffness
  3. Prevent swelling: use compression products to reduce swelling and lower pain
  4. Physical Therapy: modalities and exercises can certainly help manage your pain levels

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, go to: JOIonline.net or call 904-858-7045

There may not be great scientific proof, he notes, but the anecdotal evidence is significant.

A new five-year study of online search data adds weight to these claims. Correlating local U.S. weather data with online searches for “arthritis,” researchers saw a decline in search activity once temperatures reached 86 degrees. In contrast, searches for “stomach pain” were unrelated to local weather.

How changing weather causes pain

“People with arthritis, neck pain or other types of musculoskeletal issues tend to report most weather-related pain,” says Dr. Bolash. “Weather doesn’t seem to have as much effect on nerve pain, like complex regional pain syndrome or neuropathy.”

Scientists don’t agree on how weather causes pain. Many think it’s due to higher humidity accompanied by falling barometric pressure — the weight of air pressing on the Earth, and us.

Decreasing pressure (which ushers in bad weather) means air presses less on our bodies. That allows tissues to swell slightly. It could be the enlarged tissue that irritates joints.

Cooler temperatures don’t help. Cold can make muscles, ligaments and joints stiffer and more painful.

But Dr. Bolash says it’s more the change in pressure, temperature and humidity that triggers discomfort.

“When barometric pressure and temperature fall and humidity rises, patients will complain of more aches and pains,” he says. “It’s the damp cold that seems to exacerbate pain.”

Why everyone doesn’t move to Florida

So, is it a good idea to move where the weather is more constant — like Florida?

Researchers say climate doesn’t really matter.

One study found that even people in mild, moderate San Diego reported weather-related pain. In fact, they reported more pain than residents of the study’s three colder cities: Nashville, Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts.

“Chronic pain doesn’t care where you live,” says Dr. Bolash. “Humidity and barometric pressure change everywhere.”

What to do when rain causes pain

You can’t avoid changing weather, but you can take steps to ease weather-related pain. Dr. Bolash recommends:

  1. Staying limber. Stretching regularly and doing yoga are great ways to increase flexibility and maintain joint health.
  2. Doing water exercise. Working out in a warm pool is especially good for loosening stiff muscles, strengthening joints and easing discomfort. Water provides resistance while lifting weight from aching joints.
  3. Taking anti-inflammatory medication.

“For patients with pain in a single joint — such as the site of a former knee injury — we might pursue steroid injection or other treatment,” says Dr. Bolash. “However, maintaining mobility is the best way to fend off widespread joint pain without visiting your physician.”

Does Humidity Make Your Joints Hurt? Here’s Why, and What to Do About It

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

Elisabetta is far from alone: “Patients often say they can tell when it’s 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 don’t know why.”

There’s 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. It’s 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 it’s going to rain or when a cold front is coming.”

But scientifically speaking, the link between weather and joint pain isn’t clear or conclusive. Some evidence supports it: Research published in the Journal of Rheumatology found potential connections between humidity, temperature, and joint pain. The 2015 study included more than 800 people with osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, or hands; results showed that although changes in weather did not seem to affect symptoms, higher humidity was linked with increasing pain and stiffness, especially when the weather was colder. Another study on patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that disease activity increased with humidity and was lower on dry, sunny days.

Other science, however, suggests the opposite: A 2017 study analyzed data from more than 11 million medical visits and found no connection between rainy weather and joint pain. And research published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research also saw no link between low back pain and humidity or any other weather parameters.

More recently, our parent organization, the Global Healthy Living Foundation, presented findings from an observational study at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in 2018. Results showed a correlation between various weather patterns (including temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure) and people’s self-reported symptoms, but the link was not strong.

How Humidity May Affect Joints

Experts agree that more research is needed to determine how weather may be linked to arthritis symptoms, or why it affects some patients more than others. But they do have a few theories.

Changes in barometric pressure

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

Decrease in physical activity

Another idea: People tend to be less active when it’s humid, cold, and rainy outside — and inactive joints can become stiff and painful, explains Rajat Bhatt, MD, rheumatologist at Prime Rheumatology in Richmond, Texas. “With longer periods of inactivity and weather changes, we also see an increase in viscosity, or thickness, of synovial fluid in the joint, creating more stiffness and discomfort,” adds Dr. Smith.

Mood changes

It has also been suggested that weather affects mood, which may alter peoples’ pain perception. Bad weather may lead to a bad mood, and therefore may indirectly affect arthritis symptoms.

How to Ease Humidity-Related Joint Pain

You can’t control Mother Nature. But you can take these steps to help ease weather-related pain symptoms:

Stick to your arthritis treatment plan

This rain-or-shine rule includes taking your medication as prescribed, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Stay active

Whether you have osteoarthritis or an inflammatory type like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, research shows even a little bit of exercise can help ease pain, when done correctly. Activity usually makes stiffness better as well, adds Dr. Bass. If the humid weather seems to be affecting your joints and you don’t feel up to going out for a walk or hitting the gym, find other ways to move. Even some simple stretching at home can help diminish pain and maintain range of motion. Talk to your doctor before you start any new exercise routine.

Ask about pain medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) — may ease pain. That’s what helps Elisabetta relieve her weather-related symptoms. She takes an Advil or Aleve, in addition to her regular medication regimen, which includes the biologic etanercept (Enbrel). Talk to your doctor to determine if over-the-counter or prescription pain medications are appropriate for you.

Consider an arthritis cream

Depending on the cause of pain and type of arthritis, a topical medicated or non-medicated cream may help, suggests Dr. Bhatt. If you have mild to moderate osteoarthritis in your hands or knees, arthritis creams may work for you; they don’t work as well for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s everything you need to know about arthritis creams before you try one. Before adding any creams to your arthritis arsenal, talk to your doctor to make sure they are appropriate and safe for you.

Not Sure What’s Causing Your Pain?

Check out PainSpot, our pain locator tool. Answer a few simple questions about what hurts and discover possible conditions that could be causing it. Start your PainSpot quiz.

Keep Reading

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  • Walking with Arthritis: Benefits, Tips, How to Prevent Pain
  • Water Exercises for Arthritis

Well, if this theory proved correct (and it is not universally accepted), should a person with arthritis move to a region with a dry climate?

The answer is no. Relocating to a different climatic environment does not seem to make a difference in the long run. Scientific studies have shown that no matter where people live their bodies seem to establish a new equilibrium to the local climate. As a result, changes in the weather affect the arthritis symptoms in the same manner regardless of the actual overall average weather. Moving is not likely to be beneficial long term. (To emphasize a point, I can tell you that there are plenty of busy rheumatologists in Arizona!)

What is the bottom line?

It appears that there is some evidence that the symptoms of certain people with arthritis are influenced by changes in the weather. This is not true for all people with arthritis, nor is it predictable what type of weather alterations will bother people. For example, in one room I may have a patient complaining that last week, just before it rained, her joints began aching and now that the weather is warm and clear she feels better. Simultaneously, in the next room, a patient tells me that her joints are far worse today after it rained last week! What do I do with this information? Well, each patient must be evaluated (and evaluate themselves) uniquely. The bottom line is that while the exact cause(s) of the activation of arthritis symptoms may not yet be scientifically understood, each patient must make lifestyle and/or medication adjustments according to the particular weather conditions that they note influence their symptoms.

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

If it’s 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 that’s not keeping researchers from trying to understand it better.

What we (think we) know

Past studies examining the effect of rain, humidity, and other weather-related factors on symptoms of arthritis have been inconclusive, and in some cases, contradictory. Some suggest that the key variable is rising barometric pressure. Other studies found just the opposite — that falling pressure could provoke joint pain or stiffness. There have even been attempts to artificially vary environmental conditions to mimic weather changes, such as placing arthritis sufferers in barometric chambers and varying the pressure up and down.

Despite this, we still don’t know whether it is one particular feature of the weather or a combination of features that matters. There are many potential factors — humidity, temperature, precipitation, and barometric pressure among them. Even if we could precisely identify what about weather affects arthritis pain and stiffness, we’re still not sure why — biologically speaking — weather should have any impact on joint symptoms.

Having reviewed the studies, I find myself not knowing how to answer my patients who ask me why their symptoms reliably worsen when the weather is damp or rain is coming, or when some other weather event happens. I usually tell them that, first, I believe there is a connection between weather and joint symptoms, and second, researchers have been unable to figure out just what matters most about the weather and arthritis symptoms or why there should be a connection.

The newest studies

In just the past year or so, two new studies have weighed in on the question of whether weather has an impact on arthritis symptoms. And both found that yes, indeed, weather matters!

In the first study, Dutch researchers enrolled 222 people with osteoarthritis of the hip — the most common, “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis — and compared their reported symptoms with a variety of weather variables. They found that over a two-year period, pain and stiffness were slightly worse with rising barometric pressure and humidity, although the overall average impact was small. The second study included more than 800 adults living in one of six European countries and who had osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, or hands. Although changes in weather did not seem to affect symptoms, higher humidity was linked with increasing pain and stiffness, especially in colder weather. So, while these studies varied in the specifics, we now have a bit more evidence linking weather to joint symptoms.

So what?

It’s a fair question. After all, even if we could prove a clear and powerful impact of weather on symptoms of arthritis, how is that helpful to know? It’s not as if doctors are likely to suggest that a patient move to a more arthritis-friendly climate. It’s even less likely that patients would follow such a recommendation. Until we can control the weather or our internal environments with precision, these new studies probably have little impact for the individual arthritis sufferer.

However, identifying a link between a particular type of weather and joint symptoms might help us understand the causes and mechanisms of arthritis symptoms. And that might lead to better treatments or even preventive strategies. In addition, figuring out why some people seem to feel worse in certain circumstances while others notice no change (or even feel better) in those same environments could help us understand subtle differences between types of arthritis or the ways individuals respond to them.

“Everyone keeps talking about the weather…

…but no one is doing anything about it.” That’s an old line but, of course, there’s truth to it. But even if weather does affect the symptoms of arthritis and there’s nothing that can be done about the weather, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done about the arthritis! There are more treatment options than ever before, with and without the use of medications. If you have significant and persistent joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, see your doctor — rain or shine.

Now that the first day of summer has passed, we are getting into some of the hottest days of the year. Here in Florida and along all of the Gulf coast and the Caribbean, humidity often comes along with that heat, a fact that residents of these regions are all too familiar with. While humidity in itself can be bothersome, it can be even worse for those with back pain and arthritis.

How Humidity Affects the Body

It might surprise you to learn just how much the weather can affect our bodies. Our joints contain sensory nerves called baroreceptors, which respond to changes in the weather. When the weather changes, the air pressure changes, and the body responds accordingly. For example, when the weather is rainy and damp, the barometric pressure drops, causing our tendons, ligaments, and muscles to expand. The baroreceptors in our body respond, helping the central nervous system to regulate the resistance of blood vessels and the heart’s contractions. However, for those who already have muscle or joint pain, expansion in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can irritate the already-sensitive areas.

High humidity levels can also thicken the blood, increasing pressure in the blood vessels. This forces the heart to work harder to pump the blood throughout the body. Hot, humid climates like those along the Gulf coast, the Caribbean, and parts of Latin America also cause excessive sweating, which can be problematic in this type of climate. Our bodies produce sweat to keep us cool, but it is only when the sweat evaporates that our bodies cool down. When there is already a high level of moisture in the air, it is difficult for the air to absorb the moisture from our skin. This can eventually lead to a loss of body fluid and dehydration. Joint cartilage and the discs in our spine have high water content, and dehydration can decrease the concentration of fluid, agitating any arthritis that may be present. Dehydration in the heat can also cause more serious conditions like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Easing the Effects of Humidity

You might think that moving to a drier climate would reduce the level of pain or discomfort you feel, but that is not necessarily the case. Drier climates can sometimes reduce pain for those suffering from arthritis, but no climate will prevent you from having arthritis. There are ways to help combat the effects of humidity without going to such drastic measures.

You have probably heard this several times before, but it bears repeating: drink lots of water. You need to keep your body hydrated, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outside. Aim to drink 1-2 glasses of water for every hour you are outside. This will help you to restore your fluid levels and reduce water loss.

You can also take advantage of the warm weather in these areas and go swimming. Swimming is a great form of therapy for joint or back pain. You might even consider joining a water therapy program. If you have back or spinal pain, biking is also a great low-impact form of exercise that is easy on the back. When not exercising, a heating pad can also help to soothe joint and muscle pain.

Humidity can be an inconvenience, but it doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the nice, sunny weather.

When its cold outside, many with arthritis believe to experience more arthritis-related joint pain. You or a family member may be heard saying “this cold weather is really making my joints ache” Is this an “old wives tale” or does cold weather really affect Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease that causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The joint pain of arthritis can appear as knee pain, hip pain, thumb pain, hand pain, or wrist pain, as well as in other areas of the body. There is no conclusive scientific evidence that weather exacerbates symptoms of arthritis although there could be a link between low barometric pressure, high humidity and joint swelling. Swelling in turn can cause stiffness of the joints and pain.

How we react to cold weather

When it is cold outside, people tend to be more guarded. We clench up our fists and arms, we hunker down in our seats, burrow into our coats and generally, tighten up our bodies to shield ourselves from the elements. These defensive postures can cause more joint pain and stiffness.

But more importantly, people tend to exercise less in the colder months. Sometimes a lot less. It’s well-known that exercise eases the pain associated with arthritis. It increases flexibility, eases our joints, makes us stronger and improves our overall health. When it’s cold or wet out, we tend to make exercise less of a priority, often ignoring it altogether. Shorter daylight hours in the winter months also limits outside exercise time.

What can you do?

When venturing outside it’s important to dress warmly, using layers to trap heat close to your body. Be sure to cover your head, hands and feet well because we tend to lose most of our body heat from those areas. Protective Gloves, like Protexgloves are lightweight, cottony soft and provide light compression. They keep your hands warm without restricting hand and finger movement. Great to wear inside in a chilly house or office and outside under your winter gloves.

Topical creams can also help protect against the loss of your body’s own natural warmth. Warm Skin® All Weather Guard Cream insulates and protects your skin from cold and moisture loss caused by weather conditions.

Arthritis & Exercise

When the weather prohibits adequate outdoor activities, turn inward and figure out how to exercise inside. It’s key to maintain an active lifestyle throughout the year. If you are in the midst of a flare up, do what you can because it’s worse to not do anything at all. Check your local area for mall walkers programs, yoga classes, or aqua fitness classes at a nearby heated indoor pool. Look around your house or apartment and make the best use of your indoor space. Take the stairs when you can and maybe borrow or invest in a stationary exercise bike or a treadmill.

Be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and juice. This will help flush out toxins and help alleviate joint pain. Indulge in hot beverages, such as hot tea, hot chocolate and soup. All are warming and comforting on a raw winter day.

You can use a dehumidifier to maintain moisture level at work or home. Start your day with a hot shower. A hot shower can work some of the stiffness out of the joints and warms up your whole body.

Talk to your health care professional about other treatments like over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, acupuncture, massage, and supportive splints and braces that can be helpful.

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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

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