cold weather affects arthritis

How Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?

We all know someone who could tell when a storm was coming. They are not the local weather persons on television, but they can just tell by how their knees, hands, back, shoulders, or other joints would start to ache.

When the weather turns chilly or rain is in the forecast, many people complain about joint pain. Stiffness and soreness are problems often associated with arthritis. 

Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis? 

While there isn’t a scientifically proven reason for why people often complain of arthritic pain during changing weather, there is something to be said about how weather affects our mood and our overall well-being. Arthritis and cold weather can cause your body to constrict.

This is because cold weather can cause blood to flow slower than when you are in warmer weather and more active. You use energy to keep your body warm and your joints are areas of the body that might be more inclined to be affected by lack of warmth.

Barometric pressure has been noted as a possible reason why people suffer from arthritis pain. When there is a change in atmospheric pressure, the tissues inside your body expand and that can trigger pain. Even a small change in barometric pressure can cause inflammation and pain. 

What Can I Do To Lessen My Arthritis Pain?

Arthritis and cold weather might want to make you stay inside and get under the covers of a warm blanket but you might want to reconsider that and opt for a brisk walk.

Even walking indoors, stretching, and other movements can get your blood circulating and help reduce stiffness associated with arthritic pain. Gentle movements that keep your body moving will help fluid find your joints to aid in lubricating them.

Imagine your body is like a car — you have to keep it tuned up for it to work properly. If you let your car sit and you never start it, it will be hard to start it when you want to go somewhere. Your body is the same way. Activity keeps your joints moving and able to function when you need them to.

What Types Of Activities Should I Focus On?

You don’t have to be an athlete. Activities like gentle stretching, yoga, walking, and even ballroom dancing can help keep your joints stay in good working order. How often should you do physical activity? As often as possible. Consistency in exercise is what will be the most beneficial to you.

The variety will help weed out boredom. So, yoga twice a week, some dancing once a week, and walking every day will be beneficial when dealing with cold weather and arthritis. Only do activities that you can do fairly easily and that have been approved by your doctor, physical therapist, or a licensed healthcare provider.

Are There Other Things I Can Do To Help My Arthritis Pain?

Yes. Making sure that you dress appropriately for your activity will help. If you are going for a walk, wear comfortable, layered clothing. A shirt with a sweater and maybe a light jacket would be a good choice.

This will help you stay warm and if the weather changes you can easily put on or remove articles of clothing with ease. One heavy item like a wool sweater might not keep you as warm as different layers of fabric. Also, make sure that you are wearing supportive clothing for your body movements and shoes. That might mean wearing compression socks, stockings, or gloves.

During the winter, some people might wear compression gloves and then mittens over them so that their fingers are kept together and warm within the mittens. Well-fitting shoes or boots will help keep you steady on your feet. During colder winter months, you can lose a lot of heat through the top of your head. Wearing a hat will help keep the heat from escaping when you are outside. If you must go out in winter weather, make sure you take your time.

If you occasionally use a cane to assist in walking, make sure you have it with you. Even areas known for warm weather can occasionally have rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Walking with a cane can help you steady yourself, especially if it is windy outside.

Good Nutrition Helps Decrease Arthritis Pain

Ensure that you have well-balanced meals with a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and that can help reduce arthritis pain. Vitamin D may be in short supply during the winter months, but you can still get it through a supplement or fortified foods.

Decreasing your sodium/salt intake helps lower inflammation and can help reduce pain. Make sure you check with your doctor or a registered dietitian and/or nutritionist to ensure that you are getting the recommended amount of good, healthy nutrients for your body.

Does cold weather affect arthritis? You bet it does. Cano Health offers personalized patient care and a proactive approach to your health needs. If you are looking for health professionals who care for and treat people with arthritis, contact Cano Health.