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If you or someone you know has arthritis, you've probably heard about the connection between arthritis and the weather. Many people with arthritis experience increased pain during the colder winter months. Common arthritis symptoms include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and fatigue.

While science hasn't fully explained this connection, there are some explanations for why people with arthritis may have more pain and stiffness in the winter. When the weather gets colder, barometric pressure drops, which can cause joints to swell and put more pressure on the surrounding nerves, leading to increased pain. 

At Prima CARE, we understand the challenges arthritis can bring, especially during colder months. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and valuable resources to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

If you're dealing with joint pain in cold weather, we've compiled a list of tips to help make this winter more bearable.

Keep Yourself Warm

One of the most common tips for managing winter arthritis pain is to dress warmly. Cold weather can make it difficult for blood to circulate properly, especially in our fingers and toes, leading to increased pain in those areas. To alleviate this, it's recommended to wear warm winter clothes in layers, focusing on areas prone to arthritis pain such as hands, feet, knees, and legs. Additionally, consider using compression gloves or socks to improve circulation and reduce inflammation by applying gentle pressure to your joints.

Inside, though, it may not be as comfortable to wear a big winter jacket or many layers of clothes. You can still stay cozy and warm with things like blankets and heating pads, or if you’re feeling especially luxurious, a nice, warm bath! Whether you’re inside or outside, and no matter how you choose to keep yourself warm this winter, bundling up is a great way to help ease your arthritis pain.

Treat Yourself

Stress can be ever-present in our lives, and when you have arthritis, your stress levels may be even higher. Unfortunately, this stress often worsens arthritis pain. When we feel stressed out, our body releases chemicals that raise our heart rate, tense our muscles, and prepare us to fight or flee. These chemicals also trigger our immune system’s inflammatory response. Inflammation makes pain associated with arthritis much worse, meaning many people experience arthritis flare-ups when dealing with stress.

The good news is, this gives you a great incentive to treat yourself to some relaxation. One way to reduce stress is to slow down and take it easy, either during your daily activities or during a specific period of the day you take to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy can also help you relax, in turn reducing your pain. If possible, you could also try treating yourself to a special assistive device, like an electric can opener. These devices help with various day-to-day tasks, allowing your body to rest, resulting in less pain and less stress.

Another way to reduce stress is by reaching out to those around you. If the winter causes you to experience more pain than you normally do, try talking to your family and friends. Pain can cause depression and anxiety, and it may also keep you from participating in social events, leading to feelings of loneliness. Luckily, sharing your experiences with those closest to you can help ease these feelings, and it can also help your friends and family better understand your limitations.

Eat Smart, Stay Active

On top of being beneficial to your overall health, eating well and staying active can also help with your arthritis pain. For instance, a lot of holiday foods can cause arthritis flare-ups—from bountiful dinners to delicious desserts, the holidays are rife with foods that could cause you severe pain. Added sugars, like those found in soda, ice cream, and even barbeque sauce, have been shown to worsen arthritis symptoms, and so have foods high in salt, like pizza and processed meats. Luckily, there are lots of delicious foods that can help with arthritis(opens in a new tab), like fatty fish, garlic, berries, and even olive oils, all of which are great for treating inflammation.

Along with these foods, exercise has also been shown to help reduce arthritis pain. In fact, exercise is one of the most highly recommended ways to combat arthritis. When we exercise, we increase our strength and flexibility, helping our joints, and our brains also release chemicals that help us feel good and reduce pain. Exercising and eating well may also help you lose weight, which will reduce the pressure on your joints, further relieving your pain.

Visit the Experts at Prima Care

Perhaps the best way to avoid arthritis pain this winter (as well as through the rest of the year!) is to visit our specialists at Prima CARE. Our rheumatoid arthritis specialists can help you get the right treatment for your arthritis, including arthritis pain relief medication, easing your pain and making this time of year more enjoyable.

Plus, if you haven’t already, it’s important to get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines. As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis makes you more susceptible to contagious illnesses like these. Plus, people with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of developing complications from these illnesses, making them even more dangerous and even more worth avoiding. Make getting vaccinated a priority this winter to help keep yourself safe.

Make this winter and holiday season as easy and comfortable as possible; take care of yourself by staying warm, reducing stress, eating well, staying active, and visiting your doctors at Prima CARE! Schedule online or call (744)-375-0504 for more information!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can vitamin D deficiency worsen arthritis symptoms?

Vitamin D plays a role in maintaining bone health and immune function. While research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with increased joint pain and inflammation in some individuals with arthritis, more studies are needed to fully understand the relationship. It's recommended to discuss vitamin D supplementation with a healthcare provider.

When should I be concerned about severe symptoms of arthritis?

Severe symptoms of arthritis may include sudden and intense joint pain, joint redness or swelling, inability to move a joint, or fever accompanied by joint pain. If you experience these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention promptly.

What are the available arthritis treatments?

Treatment options for arthritis may include medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive devices, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgery. The appropriate treatment plan depends on the type and severity of arthritis. Consultation with a healthcare professional is essential to determine the best course of action.

How can I maintain a healthy weight to prevent developing arthritis?

Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of developing certain types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, it's important to adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Regular physical activity is also crucial for weight management and overall joint health.

What can I do to reduce the risk of developing arthritis?

While not all types of arthritis can be prevented, certain lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding repetitive joint stress, protecting joints during activities, and taking precautions to prevent injuries. It's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

How early can someone develop arthritis, and what are the early signs?

Arthritis can develop at any age, including in children (as juvenile arthritis). Early signs include joint pain, stiffness, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity, swelling in the joints, and reduced range of motion. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing the condition effectively.