Impacts of Rheumatoid Arthritis When Seasons Changes?
You can’t change the weather, but if your rheumatoid arthritis acts up when it’s cold and rainy, there’s a lot you can do to ease stiffness and pain.
For arthritis sufferers warm weather can mean a break from the aches and pains of bone-chilling winter temperatures.
But beware. For some arthritis patients, summer can bring a whole new set of discomfort if they’re not prepared. The hottest months of the year can prove uncomfortable for some arthritis patients. Others aren’t necessarily bothered by the temperature, but can find themselves achy and stiff because of overexertion or improper attire.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to beat the heat, keep your arthritis at bay and enjoy the dog days of summer.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
- Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that is characterized by damage and loss of articular cartilage and changes in adjacent bone, including osteophytes and subchondral bone sclerosis.
- OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
- OA is most common in people older than 65, but can occur in people of all ages.
- Age, obesity, previous joint injury and genetics may increase the likelihood of developing OA.
- Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in older persons, and is the leading cause of disability in North America.
Humidity and arthritis
The science behind arthritis pain and weather is inconclusive. All doctors and physical therapists know for sure is that the exacerbated pain some arthritis patients feel in cold or hot climates is real.
Some experts have speculated that patients with chronic pain have difficulty regulating their biomechanical systems during periods of extreme weather changes and increased moisture in the air. Some theories suggest that when the weather shifts from cold to hot or hot to cold, there are changes in the level of fluid that lines the joints, which may somehow cause an increase in joint inflammation and pain.
Regardless of the cause of arthritis pain in the summer, no one likes to hurt. The goal has to be finding ways to minimize your symptoms and maximize the season!
- Barometric pressure:
The factor that may be responsible for increased pain is not always snow, cold or rain, but a change in barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is the force exerted onto a surface by the weight of the atmosphere at any given point. According to Robert Jamison, a Professor at Harvard Medical School, the fluctuation of this pressure could be what makes you more sensitive to pain during movement.
- Intensity Of Sun-rays:
A study conducted on 133 adults with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) suggested that intensity and frequency of pain suffered by rheumatoid arthritis patients decreases in the summer. The same report also suggested that humidity is directly related to the intensity of joint pain.The reason? The risk of exacerbation of the affected joint(s) increases with higher humidity.
- High Vapor Pressure:
Inflammation suffered by arthritis patients is positively correlated with high vapour pressure. This means that you are more likely to experience greater pain and inflammation on rainy and/or hot, humid days.
What Can You Do?
Doctors traditionally treat arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications, painkillers and other forms of medications. However, some medications can cause unwanted side effects, resulting in a host of other medical problems.
Photobiomodulation Therapy / Cold Laser Therapy:
Cold laser therapy is a medical treatment that uses low-level lasers. The technology utilizes super luminous and laser diodes to irradiate diseased or traumatized tissue with photons. These particles of energy are selectively absorbed by the cell membrane and intracellular molecules, resulting in the initiation of a cascade of complex physiological reactions. This leads to the restoration of normal cell structure and function.
- Cold laser therapy or phototherapy is considered safe. It is non-invasive, painless and drug-free. There have been no reported adverse results or side effects of BioFlex Laser Therapy throughout the company’s nearly 30 year history.
- Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the benefits of using LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy) / Cold Laser Therapy / Photobiomodulation Therapy, as it reduces pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA) and improves microcirculation in the irradiated area.
Comfort is king
Let’s face it; summer heat can be draining even for those of us in the best of health. If temperature and humidity really can alter the level of fluid in your joints and affect the stiffness or laxity in your tendons, muscles and ligaments, then summer can be a real slog for some arthritis sufferers.
But it’s 2016, not 1816. So we can take advantage of climate controlled environments, supportive shoes, and light summer attire to stay comfortable.
Here are a few tips to having a cool and comfortable summer:
• Stay Indoors: Air conditioning is your friend. Too much time outside, especially at the hottest times of the day, can cause increased inflammation in your joints.
• Stay Hydrated: Drink up! To keep your joints fluid during the summer months, hydration is key. Fluid (Water) intakes will help keep you comfortable on the go. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and those with a lot of sugar. They can actually dehydrate you.
• Keep It Comfortable: Don’t wear jeans in July folks. Wearing hot, heavy or tight clothes, that don’t breathe will constrict movement and exacerbate symptoms. Loose, cotton and linen fabrics that allow air flow will keep you cool and allow you to move with ease. And it goes without saying, wear sensible shoes that support your feet, knees and back.
Get active (the right way)
Summer can offer a variety of physical activities for arthritis patients that can actually help reduce symptoms and improve mobility.
Swimming is a great summer pastime that allows arthritis patients to comfortably take advantage of the season. The buoyancy of the water can relieve pressure from joints, while offering a great low-impact cardio exercise in a cool environment.
An early morning or evening walk can be a good way to stay active in the summer, as can other low-impact activities that offer shade and a place to rest.
can help you decide the best way to navigate your vacation to maximize comfort and minimize risk and pain. Timing of activities, for example, can be crucial. People with rheumatoid arthritis often experience fatigue later in the day, so a big outing in the late afternoon or early evening might not be a good idea.
The best summer is the one where you get the most out of the warm weather. You just have to know to plan ahead to keep things cool.