Why Is Your Arthritis Worse in the Winter?

54 million people in the US have an arthritis diagnosis, and it’s one of the most widespread causes of chronic pain. If you have arthritis, you may understand the jokes about knowing when a storm is coming “because your knees tell you.” Pain for arthritis sufferers can be constant, but cold and wet conditions may intensify it.

Dr. Nameer Haider of Cell Bionics Institute has two offices: in Sterling, Virginia and Utica, New York. He can help you get through the winter months with appropriate treatment for your arthritis, and he’s put together this guide to weathering the colder months of the year.

What causes arthritis pain to worsen during winter? 

Arthritis comes in over 100 forms, but all are an inflammation of one or more of the joints. The condition can change depending on what’s causing this inflammation, where it's located, and how it can be treated. However, one complaint seems to be common among those with arthritis: winter makes the pain worse. 

Many different kinds of arthritis can be affected by the weather, but rheumatoid arthritis in particular tends to cause the most pain during the cold season. 

There’s no definitive answer for this, but there are theories. Barometric pressure changes might lead to increased pain; low temperatures might cause the joint fluids to thicken and stiffen, and the cold can simply exacerbate aches and pains.

It’s impossible to change the weather, but there are ways to manage the pain. 

How to manage wintertime arthritis

You can manage wintertime arthritis by staying warm and treating pain in small ways. It can be impossible to completely eliminate arthritis pain during the cold months, but you can manage it, prevent it, and do your best to alleviate it. Here are some tips: 

Layer up

If you haven’t already invested in some comfortable, warm clothes, now is the time to go on the hunt for some thermal wear, leggings, and fingerless gloves. 

Exercise indoors

It’s important to exercise regularly with arthritis, but doing it outside can just make your pain worse. An exercise bike can provide a low-impact way to flex joints in the knees and hips.

Use warm water

Heated pools, hot tubs, and warm baths can work wonders on sore, stiff joints in the wintertime. Make sure the room is also warm so you don’t get cold fast when you step out.

Enjoy a massage

Whether it’s given by a loved one or a professional, massages can work out stiffness and prevent pain. You can combine this with topical pain relief in the form of a cream, gel, or oil.

Above all else, make sure you have a doctor who understands arthritis and can help you with your condition. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Haider for a consultation at Cell Bionics Institute. You can call the location closest to you, or book an appointment online.

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