Cold Weather and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis Awareness

Photobucket - jess.roces
Photobucket - jess.roces

Does Cold Weather Affect your Arthritis?

So you have osteoarthritis? Winter is coming, so do you feel it in your bones? That is not a joke. Arthritis sufferers have a more difficult time getting through the winter and there are 46 million adults with arthritis in the United States.

So, exactly what is arthritis? The actual word arthritis means joint inflammation. It is an auto-immune disease. Arthritis is more common in women and also in people over age 65, but it affects all ethnic groups. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid are the two most common types of arthritis

Two Clinical Studies - John Hopkins

Many people say their arthritis is more painful on cold, rainy days; however, there have been two separate conflicting studies on the effect of climate. According to a newsletter from John Hopkins Health, the first study was completed in Cordoba City, Argentina over a year using 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. This city has a warm climate. The subjects kept a daily diary for one year, noting their pain, the features of the pain and the weather conditions, which included temperature, barometric pressure and the humidity. The results revealed that the people in all three groups had more pain when the temperature was low and those with rheumatoid arthritis had more pain with high humidity and barometric pressure. The osteoarthritis group had more pain with higher humidity as well, but those with fibromyalgia had more pain with higher pressure. The differences were not acute enough to predict the weather by pain, or vice versa.

In Florida, a group of 154 patients with osteoarthritis of the neck, hands, shoulders, knees and feet also participated in a study. This group reported their pain levels over a two year period. Researchers matched these levels with the same weather conditions used in the Argentina study. The only association found was for women with arthritis in their hands, and in that case is was related to higher barometric pressure.

Arthritic hands

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Photobucket - houray

Arthritic Pain

There is evidence that people who live in warmer, dryer climates have fewer arthritic pain episodes, but climate overall does not affect the course of the disease. Whether you have arthritis pain in your knee, hip shoulders or some other joint, there is not known cause and not cure. There are only medical treatment to help relieve the symptoms.

It is possible that the pain threshold drops in cold, wet weather as these types of days are known to affect mood. In addition, people are less likely to exercise in this type of weather and it has been well documented that arthritis pain is decreased for people who exercise regularly. Ideally, arthritic patients should exercise in a gym or warm pool when the weather is cold.

Joint Inflammation Chart

Photobiucket - pratjazz
Photobiucket - pratjazz

Cold Weather Tips

If the cold weather does seem to make your joints ache more, then there are some simple steps to follow that should ease the discomfort.

  • Continue exercise as it was just explained in the previous paragraph.
  • Bundle up with warm clothing. Don’t run out for the paper or the mail without that jacket. In cold climates, wear thermal underwear and turtleneck style tops. Sweat shirts and pants will also do the trick. Always wear a hat and gloved in cold weather.
  • While most of us watch the thermostat closely these days, keep the house warm enough to be comfortable. A programmable thermostat may be ideal for your situation.
  • A heating pad or an electric blanket may also be the answer to provide extra heat for those brutally cold days if you are having more pain. A heating pad on your knees, even for a brief period of time, will reduce the pain and remove the stiffness.
  • Let someone else in the house shovel snow or rake leaves during the cold months. You may want to pay a teenager to do this job for you. It helps them earn some spending money and you can stay in the warm cozy house.
  • Treat yourself to a nice cup of herbal tea or a cup of hot chocolate. Keep hot beverages on hand all the time, as they are soothing and will remove that chill.

Diet And Arthritis

Some people believe that eating acidic food, such as tomatoes or oranges, will worsen osteoarthritis symptoms, but there is absolutely no proof of this. In additions, these foods have vitamins that boost the immune system, which is obviously good for you. Dairy products are another myth when it comes to arthritis and the calcium content helps protect the bones.

While this has not been scientifically proven, there is a powerful antioxidant in wine that appears to cut cartilage damage in half. Future scientific studies should prove or disprove this fact, but in the meantime, I imagine your pain would be less if you drink enough wine!

Yoga Exercise and Arthritis Pain Relief: Foot Arthritis Yoga

In Conclusion

Every type of arthritis is painful and there is no cure. Keeping your weight normal, eating healthy and exercising is the best thing you can do to relieve your discomfort. Adjust your lifestyle to do the activities that are tolerable on your good days and pamper yourself on those days that are not so good

© 2012 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 33 comments

rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 3 years ago from Kentucky

Very informative and well presented. I know many that suffer with this and it is extremely painful from what they relate to me. I'm a lucky one right now, but one never knows. I know I'm an artifact, but I still sleep on a motionless waterbed. The heat factor is extremely relaxing and may aid me somewhat. Great Job!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

rcumple, I slept on a motionless water bed until last year. We got a new bedroom set and it is comfortable, but I do miss the water bed. Thank you for your comments.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Excellent hub about Arthritis and Arthritic Pain, Pamela. People suffering any kind of pain every day or most days of their lives have all my sympathy. To enjoy life while suffering pain is a challenge. Voted up and outstanding, as always :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

I do not like cold weather. Nothing about it, which is why I live in Orlando. Thank you for sharing some advice and tips to help others. I'm sure it will be appreciated. This hub will be in the Sunshine Times newspaper tonight to spread the word! :)


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 3 years ago

My aches and pains come from sports related injuries, even though I don't participate! I'll take your advice and grab a heating pad. I always loved them. Up, interesting, useful and awesome.


mackyi 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information on Arthritis Pamela99. Believe me when I say I know how tough it can be for arthritis sufferer. I have worked with several patients with arthritis and just to hear their stories or see how they struggle to get around or with fine motor tasks, due to the crippling effects of arthritis -- it's really sad!


alphagirl profile image

alphagirl 3 years ago from USA

I have osteoarthritis and cold damp weather affects me! I will add that diet is important! No cheese and dairy! It adds acid to the Jody and joints creating more inflammation! Fair is damp in Asian medicine!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Martie, You are right. People who have pain every day do have to work at enjoying life and not focusing on the pain. I appreciate your kind comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Sunshine, We don't have much cold weather in Jacksonville either. I appreciate the hub being in the Sunshine Times newspaper very much. You are always so thoughtful and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

POP, I use a heating pad as needed also. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

mackyi, Working with patients that have arthritis really lets you see what it does to their lives first hand. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

alphagirl, I have it also and I agree about the milk and dairy, despite what the references stated. I don't notice the cold weather as much but I do notice more pain with the rainy weather. Thanks for the tip on the meaning of fair in Asian medicine. I appreciate your comments.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Great informative and well written hub, my mom had arthritis and winter was not her favorite time of the year. Well done !

Vote up and more !!!


writer20 profile image

writer20 3 years ago from Southern Nevada

Great helpful. I have R/A and it hit my hands first then moved on through the rest of my body, it also gave me carpel tunnel syndrome. I'm now meds. that have taken the pain away. I guess I'll see if the cooler weather will affect me soon.

Voted up very useful and very interesting, Joyce.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Pamela99, very interesting article. my mother has rheumatoid arthritis and suffers terribly in the colder weather. She loves going to Spain in the Summer and says the warm weather really makes all the difference. She is undergoing a new treatment next month for the first time, we are all keeping our fingers crossed that she will get some good pain relief.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

kashmir, I know that is true for a lot of people with arthritis despite what the studies show. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

writer, R/A can be tough to deal with and I hope the winter won't make things more difficult for you. I hope that will not be the case for you. Thanks for your comments.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Fortunately, Pamela, I do not have arthritis but my grandmother did and it was much relieved when she moved from a colder climate to live in Florida.

Thanks for your careful research and well-written information.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I believe in yoga, I have been practing yoga for many years and i believe meditation is the key to a healthy life style. Thank You for sharing...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

drbj, I think many people move to Florida just to get away from the cold weather. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I have been told that by many people and for some reason I have not taken up yoga but am seriously considering it. I do meditate and do stretching exercises each day, which help me in many ways. Thank you so much for your comments.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I use a warm heating pad for ailments and it does help to relieve stiffness. I did the video exercise. It is so simple but I did feel the tension release. Thanks for this very educational, well written post.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

my grandma has arthritis and it really pains me to see her suffering. Thank you for the info, very useful


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Very useful article as many people suffer form this common type of arthritis. I was surprised to learn that warm weather doesn't improve this condition. I guess you gave another very good reason to exercise. Voted up!


novascotiamiss profile image

novascotiamiss 3 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

Pamela99: Another great and well researched article. I am one of the people who somewhat believe that your diet can affect all kinds of ailments and especially acid-rich foods & drinks should be avoided. Most people are unaware that diet sodas make your body acidic. I totally agree with you on the tomato theory (if something is good for you, it should be cut out althogether). Loved your comment about wine drinking....


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Dianna, I find a heating pad helpful also. I am glad the video helped. Thanks so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Mzl, I know it does hurt to see someone we love in pain. I hope your grandmother does well through the winter. I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

healthylife, I would have thought warm weather would have been useful in reducing pain but they could not prove that in clinical studies. And, yes exercise is useful for people with exercise. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

novascotiamiss, I think that we have a lot to prove about the effects of food on our health. I don't drink any type of soda. Thanks so much for your comments.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 3 years ago

My mother used to say that her joint pain increased whenever the weather is cold. It's something about the moisure in the air (humidity as you discussed). Great tips on how to relieve arthritic pain--good advice given the cold weather coming. Shared.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

anginwu, Sorry to hear your mother has arthritis. Thank you so much for your comments and the share.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 3 years ago

This is so useful, now that another winter season is nearing. Balancing a diet and exercise cna really make wonders. One out of eight will suffer regardless. I think genes and family background can make a big difference. Just my thought. Thanks for giving light to this hub, Pam! Great research and awesome writing!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Joseph, I think there is certainly a genetic component. I know in my family that is the case and many diseases seem to run in families even though they aren't considered to be genetically inherited. Lupus is a good example. Thanks for your comments.

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