Why does cold weather often negatively affect arthritis sufferers?

Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that affects over 58 million adults in the United States alone. While there are numerous causes for arthritis, the pain, discomfort and loss of mobility that the disease causes is something that most arthritis sufferers have in common. Arthritis symptoms are most commonly treated through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, and managing symptoms with physical therapy.

What cold weather factors can make arthritis symptoms worse?

If you suffer from arthritis, you may find that certain cold weather factors can actually make your symptoms worse. These factors may include:

  • Repetitive motion — Activities that include repetitive motion, such as running, manual labor or swinging a tennis racket, can damage joints affected by arthritis. Winter activities like shoveling your driveway can also involve problematic repetitive movements. 
  • Lack of exercise — Not moving your body enough can be just as bad for you as moving too much. However, people often want to stay inside and move less when it’s cold out. The CDC recommends engaging in exercises such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics, or dancing, which are easier on the joints and can be done inside.
  • Cold and rainy weather — Low temperatures and high humidity in the air can make the pain and stiffness of arthritis feel worse in many patients. In a 1998 study of over 150 patients, roughly 20% to 30% complained of increased pain during cold and humid weather.

Why does cold weather affect arthritis?

Arthritic pain and discomfort during cold weather is most likely caused by a change in barometric pressure in the air. Barometric pressure measures the weight exerted by the molecules of the air. During cold or rainy weather, barometric pressure falls. Scientists have suggested that lower barometric pressure can cause our tendons and muscles to expand. This puts pressure on the joints, which can contribute to an increase in pain.

How can I reduce my pain during cold weather?

If you are having trouble managing the pain and discomfort of arthritis during cold weather, it may be time to consider physical therapy. A licensed physical therapist can help you manage your arthritis symptoms by tailoring a physical therapy plan to suit your needs. Some of the methods employed may include:

  • Joint mobilization.
  • Therapeutic exercise.
  • Electrical stimulation.

The first step on the road to managing your arthritis pain is to come into our office for a free evaluation. Franklin Rehabilitation is ready and willing to assist you in managing your arthritis symptoms and improving your quality of life, so that you can continue to do the things that you love. 

Contact our team today for more information on how to get started.