Cold Weather and Osteoarthritis
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.
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
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
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