Can Cold Weather Really Worsen Your Arthritis Symptoms?

Get Rid of Joint Pain in Winter
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Are you suffering from Arthritis? Are you feeling tired of waking up to swollen, itchy joints every morning? If you are reading this article, chances are that you are.

You are one of the many Arthritis patients who is looking for ways to relieve their joint pain. And if it is Arthritis that you are dealing with, then you probably know that Arthritis is almost impossible to manage in the winter days.

Or at least that is what most of the Arthritis patients think. Well, we are glad to say that you are wrong! Arthritis symptoms are just as manageable during the winter as during the summer days.

You just need to know the right fighting techniques. And lucky for you, we are here to share them with you! But first, let’s refresh your knowledge on the topic of Arthritis by revising some basic Arthritis facts.

Can Cold Weather Really Worsen Your Arthritis Symptoms?

It is not uncommon to feel as your Arthritis symptoms, especially your pain, worsen as the winter days take over. And you do not just imagine it happen.

This has been such a controversial topic for so long – whether or not there is a true link between cold weather and Arthritis symptoms, especially pain.

But then researchers started investigating this question and turned up with an answer. A study published in the Reumatologia clinica investigated the ability of cold weather to worsen the Arthritis pain among middle-aged patients and showed that there really is a proven link. Cold weather can actually worsen your Arthritis symptoms. So now, let’s see what you can to do get some relief, shall we?

By: Alexandra Pitilli

A few suggestions to avoid joint pain this winter would be:

1. Keep moving your body. Staying in hibernating mode all winter might actually do your body more harm than good. Get up and start moving! Your body needs to move in order to keep joints and muscles from cramping up. As we age, we tend to lose* elasticity in our joints and connective tissues, which makes us feel pain in just going up the stairs. Using a foam roller is a great way to move your joints without too much stress on the body. Foam rollers are great to stretch out before and after a workout or simply to ease joint pain and stiffness.

2. Chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic adjustments are a great natural treatment for joint pain. Besides being a key factor in balancing our nervous system, adjustments are a drug-free option to healing the body naturally. Adjustments also help to place your body in the right position so the body can heal itself. Chiropractic adjustments are also help reduce* stress on the body, improve* immune system, and frees up energy to be used towards disease prevention and maintaining homeostasis.

3. Hot bath. Taking a hot shower or bath can definitely help with joint pain. Warm water helps stimulate blood flow to stiff muscles and joints. Adding calming agents such as lavender oil or eucalyptus can help make your home bath feel like a spa experience. Research shows that soaking in warm water does wonders for all kinds of musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis, low back pain, and even fibromyalgia.

4. Drink plenty of water daily. Drinking water helps lubricate your joints and keeps your body from dehydrating. Especially for people suffering from arthritis, drinking plenty of fluids can help increase* energy in the affected joint areas, remove* toxins and wastes from damaged joints and muscles, helps in relieving inflammation around joints and muscles, and acts as a cooling agent in the body which promotes* proper blood flow.

Healing joints and muscles in the most natural way is best. Get rid of taking constant pain relievers and try to start using natural healing treatments to help your body feel its best. Having joint pain and stiffness especially in the colder months can be very frustrating, but I promise, try these natural healing tips and your body will be as good as new! Try and stop taking pain relievers and consult with your primary care physician before making any changes.

By Connie Stoltz-Mcdonald

One of the reasons I love living in Minnesota is because of the four seasons, but winter can be unbearable due to extreme winds and chills. As I get older and for most of us, we notice the difference in our joints and daily mobility. The cold temperatures play a huge part in having those joint aches, yet we love having our colder nights to sleep.

So, how do we conquer the pain and enjoy the winter season. Since most common stiffness happen around the knees, hips, neck and the smaller joints in the hand and mainly due to wear and tear as we get older, it can linger between inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis.

The changes in the air pressure have proven to have an effect on joint pain where the blood circulation becomes restricted due to lack of physical activity during winter, along with nerve fiber sensitivity. This is also due to having less blood circulation in these areas during colder seasons. Runners experience these symptoms often due to spending additional time exercising in colder conditions.

It’s important to note that at this time, there’s a lack of evidence to support this is the reaction to what is happening in your body. Of course, always check with your physician as sometimes joint pain can be an indicator of another underlying health condition, especially if you are seeing the stiffness all year around.

What can we do to overcome these body aches and joint pain?

1. Take it easy by walking or jogging at a slower pace to protect yourself from injuries. If you plan on going outside, make sure you dress for it. It’s important to stretch and use a foam roller to aid in reducing* muscle tightening after exercise. Another option if you’re stuck in your office is to try sitting and standing in a chair by completing a slow, and supported movement.

Set a goal of 20 -30 minutes of exercise daily. Let’s not forget that your knees experience 3-4 times your body weight when you walk so getting the daily exercise will benefit your knees.

2. Try non-weight bearing activity, and look for exercises that supports your body.

3. Swimming can be very beneficial, which will help your core back and leg muscles to gain strength and trying leg lifts can have positive effects on your quadriceps.

4. Always make sure you are stretching and do a proper warm-up. Try to use the stairs instead of the elevator to boost* flexibility. On rest days, make sure you are dressed warm to reduce* the stiffness and continue the daily stretching to keep your body limber.

5. Add in some light physical activity while watching your favorite shows or take a warm bath with Epsom salt or essential oils to alleviate stress while keeping the joints warm to aid in flexibility.

6. Look at getting a professional massage or sign up for a yoga or aerobics session.

7. Let’s not forget a vital key is a healthy diet, which will consist of fruits, grains, dairy and vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers which are essential due to their diuretic & antioxidant benefits to remove* waste from the body. Getting the essential amount of milk daily will support the strengthening of your bones through the protein and calcium benefits.

Make sure your diet includes foods with Vitamin K, D, C, such as oranges, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, which will support the creation of cartilage, especially for those who have already been experiencing joint pain. It aids in the support of calcium to increase* the strength needed in the bones.

Try to eliminate* processed foods, trans-fats and added sugars as they increase* inflammation in the body. You’ll want to avoid alcohol, coffee and tea to eliminate* the reduction* of calcium you absorb and therefore, weaken your bone strength. Drink more Water!

8. To help reduce* the inflammation and pain, supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish, chia seeds or walnuts. You could also use aspirin or ibuprofen. Apply an ice pack to aid in reduction* of swelling and discomfort.

9. Don’t forget sleep is vital. Not getting enough sleep can cause fatigue, body aches and tightening of the joints.

Why do we see this change more during fall and winter?

Well, experts say there are a few studies out there, but most research suggests that the body will tend to preserve heat and therefore, transporting more of the blood to the organs in the middle of the body, such as the heart or lungs.

The blood vessels will compress in the areas such as the knee joints, arms and legs and with less blood flow, it makes those areas stiff which leads to the pain and discomfort that you are experiencing when the season changes.

Keep in mind, as experts point out- we see a reduction* in sunlight (our advantage to getting Vitamin D) during this season which provides the extra bone strength we need and therefore, make you more open to joint stiffness and body aches. So anytime you can soak up the sun, take advantage of the much needed nutrients. It’s important to consult your physician to look at options for Vitamin D supplementation.

In conclusion, stay active and exercise daily at least 20-30 minutes a day along with proper stretching will reduce* the joint stiffness and body aches. Maintain a healthy diet to support the nutrients needed to funnel out the inflammation and remove* the waste from the body. Keep yourself hydrated and maintaining a sleep routine to reduce* fatigue and pain. Take time for yourself with a warm bath or schedule a massage to alleviate symptoms. By conquering these tactics, you will no longer be regretting the winter season.

As always consult your health professional. I hope this article finds you in good health.

By Claudia Baillargeon

Claudia Baillargeon
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With colder days amongst us, it is not uncommon to hear some of my clients experiencing more joint pain because of the cold and the humidity. Simply put, a joint is a connection between two bones that provide support and allow us to move freely. Any damage to a joint can cause pain or discomfort. These damages are mainly due to injuries and illnesses (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, etc.). Unfortunately, some of these illnesses are irreversible, but there are some things that we can do to reduce* or at least manage the pain.

As a kinesiologist and exercise expert, there are two main things I would like to cover on the subject; weight management and customized physical activity.

The most common joint pain is knee pain. What happens is that the cartilage between the structures around the knee (or other joints) gets thinner and thinner which causes friction between the bones, inflammation of the joint and at last, discomfort and pain. This means that any added resistance or load put on the joint is an extra weight that contributes to the friction, inflammation and pain.

With that being said, it is important to keep a healthy weight so the pressure on the joints decreases*, especially for hips, knees and ankles as the lower body supports most of our bodyweight.

Nutrition plays a huge role on weight management. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and to watch the size of your portions. Drinking lots of water is a huge benefit for weight management but also for joint pain. Exercise is also super important when working to keep your body at a healthy weight. Make sure to stay active daily and to incorporate weight training, cardio and stretching to your weekly exercise routine.

Speaking of which, physical activity is crucial to help reduce* joint pain. BUT you have to follow a customize program with specific and safe exercises to not reverse the benefits of training and actually add to the pain. Here are a few general rules to follow. Avoid any high impact activity such as jumping, skipping, running.

Swimming and bike riding are great cardio activities that will keep your joints healthy. Follow a customize weight lifting workout routine to strengthen the muscles around your joints so they can protect your bones. You should feel your muscles contracting and working during the exercises, but they should not induce sharp pain or more discomfort.

Stretching is also a great way to increase* or keep your range of motion so you can keep moving freely. Passive stretching (holding a position for a longer time) is probably the best way to improve* your flexibility without adding any more pressure to your joints.

Take care of your joints by keeping a healthy weight, moving daily and eating well and your pain and discomfort will be manageable and will hopefully reduce* with time!

By: Emily Wood

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about joint pain is inflammation. Sure, we have all heard the term, but what exactly is it? And how is it impacting our bodies? Inflammation is a naturally occurring process in our bodies that is needed to combat infections, help heal us after injury, and protect us from toxic substances that we may come in contact with.

However, chronic inflammation is a process that can start harming our bodies by damaging healthy cells. If you are experiencing ongoing daily joint pain, then there is going to be inflammation, and not the good kind.

Lucky for us, there are several ways to promote suppression of inflammation, and hence joint pain, that does not require pumping ourselves with pain killers. Inflammation can be enhanced* by several factors, such as stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants, and, of course, food.

Even as a Registered Dietitian, I remain constantly amazed by the power of food. By eating the right foods to suppress* inflammation, even in the dead of winter, you should find relief of your joint pain.

There are many foods to include, as well as exclude, when trying to manage joint pain and inflammation:

Foods to Include:

Green leafys – Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and collards, contain compounds that protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules. They also contain phytonutrients which assist in detoxification.

Red/Blue/Purple colored fruits and veggies – Foods such as berries, red grapes, red peppers, and red cabbage contain the antioxidant compounds anthocyanidins, which protect our healthy cells from inflammatory damage.

Omega 3 fatty acids – Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are good animal sources of Omega 3, however some plant foods such as flax seed, almonds, and walnuts, are also packed with this essential fatty acid.

Certain Spices – Common spices, such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic can inhibit pro-inflammatory molecules.

Foods to Exclude:

Added sugar – Avoid foods and beverages made with high fructose corn syrup. Stick to natural sugars, such as those found in fruit.

Alcohol – Limiting alcohol consumption is especially important for you if your joint pain is caused by Gout.

Omega 6 fatty acids – Most of us get too many Omega 6 foods in the form of refined oils from processed foods. When our intake of Omega 6 foods is much higher than our intake of Omega 3 foods, then an inflammatory response may result.

Gluten containing grains – The gluten in wheat, rye, and barley may create an inflammatory response in individuals who have a sensitivity to it.

Here are my top 5 tips for managing joint pain in the winter:

1. Eat More Plants – Plant based foods contain the antioxidants that help combat inflammation, and fight free radicals that cause damage to healthy cells. Skip the processed stuff, and choose whole, healthy plant based foods to fill your plate.

2. Get Adequate Sleep – If your body does not have the chance to wind down and re-charge itself, then it can’t function to its full potential. If getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night seems like a stretch for you, then at least establishing a set sleep schedule is beneficial.

3. Stay Active – Low impact activity can help keep your joints fluid and strong, so bundle up and keep moving!

4. Limit Processed Foods – Skip the added sugar and refined oils, and focus on whole, unprocessed foods, such as fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

5. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight – Extra body weight contributes to extra inflammation in the body, and extra stress on your joints, so double whammy. Find a plan that creates long term healthy lifestyle changes, and not just a “quick-fix” fad diet.

Conclusion

Arthritis is not an easy diagnosis to live with, and as it turns out, the winter days add to this difficult diagnosis. But that does not mean that you have to let the worsen symptoms consume your life. As you can see, we have shared different ways that you can use to help yourself get through your Arthritis symptoms during the cold days. You get to fight just as strong as the cold weather fights to worsen your symptoms! Use these simple ways to improve* your condition and prevent the cold air from making your condition more difficult than it already is!

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.

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