Grappling With Arthritis Pain During Winter Months
Old wives’ tales about arthritis predicting a gloomy change in the weather and experiencing more pain during winter months have been circulating for years. But, are these claims true, and how can people with arthritis grapple with pain symptoms?
Although arthritis, also known as joint inflammation, affects people throughout the year, the winter months and wet weather can make it difficult to manage symptoms. Joint pain and stiffness usually worsens with age. Besides pain, individuals may experience redness, stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion. When arthritis becomes severe, doing daily tasks can be frustrating. Walking comfortably or sitting up straight may also become problems, and in some cases, joints may eventually become deformed and twisted.
There is some truth to cold weather increasing the pain level in arthritis sufferers. Referring to a slew of recent studies, a Farmer’s Almanac article cited that “while not every piece of old weather lore is true, evidence seems to suggest that this one is based in fact. As far back as the 1960s, medical researchers have found, over and over again, that there is a genuine connection between increased pain and cold, wet weather.” The Arthritis Foundation also pointed out a 2007 study found that weather factors such as a drop in barometric pressure (another term for atmospheric pressure) and lower temperature can increase pain.
Atmospheric pressure is the force exerted by the weight of the atmosphere at any given point. Tissues in the body may expand when the barometric pressure that pushes against the body falls. This results in more pressure on the nerves that control pain signals. If you suffer from arthritis, here are a few things you can do to adjust to the weather changes, especially during the winter months and wet weather:
- Dress warmly, paying special attention to the hands, knees and feet with gloves and extra layers.
- Avoid getting your feet damp and wear supportive, slip resistant shoes.
- Exercise, walk and stay active to ease arthritis pain, increase strength and flexibility and fights fatigue. Avoid the cold by exercising inside.
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water because dehydration may increase pain perception.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight. Obesity affects arthritis and can make symptoms worse.
- Swim in a heated pool and/or take warm baths but do not go out in the cold after soaking.
- Get enough vitamin D. The winter weather may not provide enough vitamin D from sunlight. Consult with your doctor about supplements and vitamin D-fortified foods.
If you’re grappling with arthritis pain this winter season, make Carmichael’s Crowley Pharmacy your go-to pharmacy for over-the-counter and prescription medications. We also have a selection of assistive devices to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Arthritis treatment includes pain management medication, and Carmichael’s Pharmacists can work with the patient and the prescribing doctor to ensure the exact prescription is prepared at our Compounding Pharmacy in Crowley.