Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Since there hasn’t been extensive research into it, medical professionals remain pretty divided on the subject.

But most agree it’s not really anything to do with the cold or any type of storm for that matter. The most probable link between weather and arthritis pain is barometric pressure. When it’s high, people feel less pain in their joints because the barometric pressure pushes and keeps tissue/muscles close to the joints. But when the pressure begins to drop, the tissue and muscle expand, causing the joint to flare up and you feel pain.

The experts do say that when someone warns of an impending storm, they will be right more often than not because of barometric pressure. There’s no way of moving to get away from it either. Warmer climate states had just the same effect if not worse in some cases than cooler/humid climate states.

But there are ways to help relieve joint pain and swelling without having to move:

  • As the weather changes, you might need to increase your pain medication. But that is something only you and your physician can determine.
  • Stay warm. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But dressing in layers, keeping your home or car warm can help ease joint pain during a cold season. Using an electric blanket, warming throw, and/or heating pad can all help as well, because it lets the muscles relax.
  • Try to prevent swelling. Experts say keeping warm is only half of what you need to feel relief. It might help with joint pain, but not swelling. Using compression socks or sleeves can help, as well as Spandex gloves at night to help keep fluid out of your joints.
  • Keep moving. We’ve all hear that “a body in motion” will keep arthritis symptoms at bay. It’s true. Keeping busy physically through exercise will help loosen joint stiffness.
  • Improve your mood. Feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable is to be expected when you live with arthritis, but experts say learning to improve your mood is important. Try to break up your routine into smaller chunks, pace yourself, and figure out how to improve your sleep. Lastly, keeping your mind active (or distracted) is just as critical as keeping your body active.
  • Realize that the pain is temporary. Remember that when the weather changes, your pain will ease. Unless it’s winter, then your body will simply acclimate and settle into the cold weather.

For more information on how you can ease arthritis pain, no matter what the weather is outside, go to http://www.webmd.com.