Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or wear-and-tear osteoarthritis, you may have noticed that your pain and stiffness is harder to bear when the weather is cold and damp. You’re not alone. Multiple studies seem to verify the link between cold or humid weather and the severity of arthritis pain.
However, women and men who have gout (a form of arthritis that most often affects your big toe) experience more pain in warmer months, rather than cooler. And others who have various forms of arthritis struggle more in the summer months.
To complicate matters, humidity may have more of an influence on arthritis pain severity, no matter the temperature.
One of the most important aspects of managing your arthritis pain is to identify your personal triggers and then do your best to avoid them. If cold, damp weather makes your joints creak like a swollen window, you may find relief when summertime rolls around.
Kimberly Bolling, MD, an experienced clinician in Bowie, Maryland, specializes in diagnosing and treating all forms of arthritis. Following are some of her recommendations about how to use summer’s heat to your benefit if you have arthritis that’s triggered by cold weather.
Be aware of pressure
Even when the weather is warm, you may experience a flare-up in arthritis pain when the barometric pressures change. Low-pressure systems that bring rain or excess humidity tend to be the most reliable triggers. Low air pressure can make the tender tissues in your joints expand and contract.
Prepare yourself for wet and heavy weather by sticking to your anti-inflammatory diet and exercise plan. Be sure to stock up on any pain medications or other treatments you might need to “weather the storm.” Keep track of what’s in store with a local weather index.
Move as much as you can
One reason that colder weather may be associated with more arthritis pain is that you’re less likely to take a stroll or engage in sports when the sky is gray and the climate gloomy. Now that our southern sun is shining, be sure to get outside (with sunscreen on) and move your joints.
Take a stroll in the shade, or under an umbrella or parasol, to stay cool while you warm up your joints. Every step you take helps release a lubricating fluid in your joints called synovial fluid that protects them from bone friction and wear-and-tear.
Staying active on sunny days helps you feel better on the gloomy ones, too. If the humidity is too severe for your comfort, consider a swim instead of a stroll. The water’s buoyancy takes the pressure off your joints while you keep them limber through movement.
Take advantage of summer’s crops
Aside from the sun and warmer clime, summer brings an abundance of the types of fruits and vegetables your joints love. Some choices that help keep inflammation down while nourishing your joints include:
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Other melons
Also be sure to stay hydrated. You may need to drink much more than you usually do. Hot weather and humidity can make you sweat. Infuse your water with summer’s berries, cucumbers, and melons to make it vitamin-rich and easier to drink.
Of course, if hot weather is harder for your joints to bear, be sure to get the care you need by reaching out to us for medications or physical therapy. We can also help you identify your personal triggers — no matter what the thermometer says — so you can live fully and painlessly with arthritis.
If you’re struggling with arthritis pain this summer, contact our friendly team today by calling 301-352-0090. You may also request an appointment online.