The chances are, if you are taking the time to read this article, you or someone you hold dear suffers from Arthritis in one form or another, many of you out there who suffer from this painful condition know why winter isn’t cool for arthritis sufferers.
Whilst the younger generation are looking forward to Christmas and receiving lots of beautiful gifts, arthritis sufferers are quietly dreading the drop in temperature this time of year brings. As the pleasant temperatures of Summer begin to ebb away and the cold, dark winter nights start to move in, our thoughts turn to how we can protect ourselves from the cold and avoid the peculiar situation of Arthritic pain becoming more severe in the winter months.
If you or a loved one suffer from Arthritis you’ll be all too familiar with the affects that cold and damp weather can have on your joints. Wade and I get requests all the time from people who read our site wanting to know if they are imagining the increase in pain, if the weather is really effecting their joints and what they can do to help alleviate this strange phenomenon.
We have found from our own small research group and by studying papers written on the subject that the weather can indeed worsen Arthritic pain, although the causes of these symptoms are difficult to study and have proven to be almost impossible to pin down
What the scientific data shows
The symptoms of Arthritis and the pain associated with the condition are difficult to determine, due to differences in a given patients condition, the environmental conditions they are faced with such as humidity and even the rise and fall of barometric pressure. However scientists have been quietly conducting studies for many years.
These studies have tried to examine the effects of weather related factors on Athritis, some of these studies have drawn significant conclusions and others have been contradictory and inconclusive so it’s very difficult to come up with definitive answer but it seems (to some at least) that one of the main factor at work is the rise and fall of barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is the weight of the air in the atmosphere of the Earth
The condition is worsened by both rising and falling pressure and the forces that change exerts on the joints
It has been suggested that rising barometric pressure causes the pain but it has also been postulated that the same effect is caused by falling barometric pressure, we suspect that the condition is worsened by both rising and falling pressure and the forces that change exerts on the joints. Controlled tests have been carried out on patients in placed barometric chambers but we still don’t know if the pain is being caused by a single environmental cause or a number of different causes acting together. Wade and myself expect the latter.
Biologically speaking environmental effects such as the weather should have no effect on joint pain but this seems not to be the case at all.
Anyone who keeps in touch with Wade and Myself regularly will know that we are advocates of spending the winter months in warmer climes, an army of pensioners from all over Northern Europe know that the climate closer to the equator is more beneficial and helps a lot with their joint pain, Wade and I see this every time we visit the Costa del Sol to check on our clients in that area. I think it is also important to note that barometric pressure is less at the equator than it is at the poles, could this be a contributing factor? We think so.
Why winter isn’t cool for Arthritis sufferers
Over the last 18 months or so a couple of new studies have emerged that try to shed new light on the question of whether arthritic pain increases in the winter time. Both have concluded that the cold makes us Ache!
A study of over 800 adults from 6 different European countries tested out a theory linking weather and particularly high humidity with an increase in pain for osteoarthritis sufferers. The test subjects all suffered from pain in the Hip, Knee and hands and the study found that there was increased pain and stiffness in times of higher humidity particularly in times of increased cold.
Another study by Dutch researchers took 222 patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and compared their pain levels with changes in local weather conditions. The results of this 2 year study showed a slight increase in pain that corresponded to a rise in Barometric pressure and humidity although the measurable impact of these changes on the body were small. So both studies did indeed find evidence of increased winter joint pain but were inconclusive in their findings.
What is the solution?
The simple answer is, there isn’t a simple answer.
We would suggest anyone from Northern Europe who can, should spend some time in the warmer parts of southern Europe over the winter, not just for the warm weather but for the beneficial effect it has on other seasonal disorders such as SAD, depression and the lack of outside time to exercise and be in nature. We do realise however that this isn’t possible for a lot of people as the costs of doing so can become prohibitive and not everyone wants to spend months in a new country.
Of course, keeping warm and dry, staying out of the cold and wrapping up warm if you do have to brave the freezing outdoors is something we can all do. If you have limited mobility you can have your groceries delivered to your door rather than trudging to the shops, you can buy most things online these days which again, cuts the time you would have to spend trudging around in the cold and if you are elderly with reduced mobility you could ask someone to help you move your bed into your sitting room so that you only have to heat one room and not the whole house.
We are obsessed with the weather
Everyone’s discussing the weather, it’s a British obsession and you would do well to keep an eye on the weather forecast if you have particularly bad pain at the winter time. Keep an eye on any high pressure weather systems that are moving into the UK and note what effect that has on your arthritic pain, if you see an increase in pain in times when pressure is particularly high then you can plan accordingly by keeping pain medication close at hand and staying indoors in a nice cosy environment.
Don’t just talk about the weather
Study the weather conditions that make you feel worse, think about the things you can do to avoid the discomfort bought about by changes in temperature, write them down if necessary and take action, it’s your health and happiness, take charge of your condition and learn to live with the hand that you are dealt
Of course, it goes without saying that you should stick to eating the foods that reduce inflammation, increase your intake of the beneficial foods that support your health and take a look at the supplements that Wade and I have taken the time to research and vigorously test over the last decade.
Winter isn’t cool for Arthritis sufferers but that doesn’t mean you have to be under the weather.