The age-old question about the relationship between cold weather and aching joints continues to elude people. There is still not enough research to prove that the drops in temperature directly correlates with worsening joint pain. However, a change in barometric pressure does increase sensitivity. While our joints work to expand as they adjust to this new atmospheric pressure, it can cause pain and stiffness, especially for people with arthritis. In dealing with consistent inflammation of their joints, people with arthritis and cold weather just do not mix.
Despite the lack of understanding about cold weather’s impact on people’s joints, the reality is that people with arthritis are more likely to experience joint pain during winter. There are still plenty of things you can do to help alleviate some of that discomfort as you brace for the upcoming season.
What helps with arthritis in cold weather?
- Get to know your body’s response to changes in weather – Not everyone will react the same way to cold or warm weather. It’s important to pay close attention to how your joints feel during a noticeable shift in temperature so you can better prepare for any potential swelling or inflammation.
- Stay Active – The best way to keep your blood flowing at your joints is by doing regular physical activity. It’s best to do high-intensity workouts inside to not further aggravate your arthritis, especially if you’re prone to things like knee, leg or neck pain due to cold weather. Any efforts to maintain a healthy weight will also help with alleviating pressure on weight-bearing joints.
- Keep hydrated – This will be easier if you maintain a regular workout schedule, but continually replenishing your body with water will help stave off any sensitivity to joint pain by proactively curbing any inflammation.
- Dress Appropriately – Don’t be afraid to layer up. Try to reduce your skin’s exposure to the cold to keep your internal temperature warm as well as your joints and ligaments warm with gloves and boots.
- Relax your muscles – From baths to heating pads, any efforts to heat up your joints will release any pressure or pain.
With all this in mind, it begs the question if warmer weather helps with arthritis. There have been plenty of studies conducted to try and prove if there is a connection between arthritis and weather, but it all depends on the particular condition, pressures associated with weather changes and the individual themselves. Although people with arthritis that live in areas with warmer climates may experience less joint pain, it doesn’t mean that joint pain will go away.
If you experience consistent joint pain from arthritis, you should have your condition evaluated by an Orthopedic Surgeon. Dr. Van Thiel specializes in minimally invasive and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, knee, and shoulder and can provide a custom treatment plan to help you navigate your joint pain.