Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?
Cold weather plays a factor on your joints (which is the area in the body where two or more bones meet). Joints allow bones to work with each other so that we can move and bend. When you move these joints, you notice that it’s usually relatively smooth with no cracking or grinding (unless you have arthritis).
Joints contain cartilage, a rubbery material that serves as a cushion so that bones can seamlessly glide against each other. As the cartilage starts to wear with time, injury, or disease, the joint can swell, become inflamed and stiff, lose its range of motion and weaken.
As painful as arthritis is for many, it seems to get worse during cold weather. Here are some reasons why cold weather can cause painful joints.
Atmospheric pressure is the force we feel because of the weight of the atmosphere. Typical in cold weather, the atmospheric pressure decreases, and tissue in the body expands. This adds more pressure on the body’s nerves and leads to more pain signals being sent to the brain
Some doctors believe atmospheric pressure changes do affect people with arthritis – especially those with fibromyalgia or psoriatic arthritis – who tend to have more flare-ups in the colder months.
During winter, we most likely prefer a warm cozy fireplace to being outdoors. As such, we tend to slow down a bit during the winter months. This decrease in physical activity negatively impacts those with arthritis, so it’s no coincidence that those of us who prefer the sunshine to the snow may decide to cool it until the sun comes out in spring.
Cold and dampness are especially brutal for those who have arthritis – especially rheumatoid arthritis. If your home is damp, try to dry it out with heaters and dehumidifiers. Keep your skin moist and, in doing so, consider massaging oils or cremes into your joints to get the blood flowing again.
How to Manage Symptoms
If you are heading outside during the cold, dress warmly and layer up. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics to keep your muscles and joints from getting a chill. Stay active in the cold weather. If you cannot go out, explore exercise and workout activities that you can do in the comfort of your home. There are a variety of exercises that you can do with very little space or equipment required.
Speak with an Orthopedic Specialist Today
Are you suffering from a recent injury? Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has nearly two dozen offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational, medical material.