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Arthritis and Cold Weather, a Painful Combination

Arthritis and Cold Weather, a Painful Combination

If you’ve got arthritis, you may already know that cold weather can make joint pain seem worse.

Affecting 1 in 4 American adults, arthritis presents unique challenges. The pain and stiffness in your joints make it difficult to not only do the activities you enjoy, but it can also complicate your activities of daily living. When you have arthritis, activities such as putting on shoes, going to the grocery store or even just holding a book to read can be painful.

But changes in the weather may complicate the situation even more by making your painful joints feel worse.

Woman experiences neck pain due to arthritis.Understanding the Connection Between Arthritis and Cold Weather

While cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis, existing arthritis symptoms like pain and stiffness may be made worse when the temperature drops. Researchers and numerous studies have evaluated the connection between cold weather and arthritis pain. Some studies have found a connection between barometric (atmosphere) pressure and arthritis pain. Others found a direct link between temperature and arthritis pain, and even some found that the connection between arthritis and cold weather was strongest when coupled with high humidity. If that’s true, then cold, wet weather is worst for your joints. Warm, dry weather, on the other hand, is best. Strong winds may even play a role in weather-related arthritis.

Easing Weather-Induced Arthritis

Unfortunately, you can’t prevent arthritis, and you can’t stop it from affecting you in cold weather. However, you may be able to reduce your symptoms by keeping your joints warm, staying warm indoors on cool and damp days, and massaging painful joints.

When you must head outdoors, bundle up. Cover as much of your body as possible with warm clothing and gloves, and consider putting hand warmers in your pockets for added warmth. This reduces the likelihood that your arthritic joints will be inflamed or painful.

For added relief, try over-the-counter medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and acetaminophen are great options, after consulting with your physician. If you know it’s going to be cold outside, take or use pain medications before you need them to prepare for your outing.

Finally, don’t stop moving. When the weather makes you want to bundle up and stay still, don’t give in. Find creative ways to keep moving. Exercise at home along with an online video. Pace back and forth in your house while talking on the phone. Spend five minutes stretching every hour. Even if the cold sticks around, the pain won’t.

Do you have arthritis? You don’t have to care for it on your own. Expert rheumatology care at Altru can help minimize symptoms and maximize your quality of life.